Anisotropic colloidal transport and periodic stick-slip motion in cholesteric finger textures†
We have investigated the mobility of discoidal colloidal particles sedimenting within cholesteric finger textures formed by mixtures of the nematic liquid crystal 4-cyano-4′-pentylbiphenyl (5CB) and the chiral dopant 4-(2-methylbutyl)-4′-cyanobiphenyl (CB15) with cholesteric pitch p between 24 and 114 μm. The nickel disks, with radius 17 μm and thickness 300 nm, displayed varied transport behavior that depended on the size of the pitch and the orientation of the gravitational force with respect to the cholesteric axis. In textures with small pitch (p < 40 μm), the disks moved perpendicular to the axis irrespective of the orientation of gravity as a result of an elastic retarding force that prevented motion along the axis. In textures with larger pitch, the disks similarly moved perpendicular to the axis when the angle between the force and axis was large. When the angle was small, the disks displayed stick-slip motion caused by periodic yielding of the finger texture. A model considering viscous drag on the particles and the elastic energy cost of deforming the finger texture describes the stick-slip motion accurately. The effective drag viscosities obtained from the disk motion are anomalously large compared with those of pure nematic 5CB indicating a large contribution to the dissipation from the motion of disclinations in the texture in the vicinity of the translating disks.