Two-dimensional island emulsions in ultrathin, freely-suspended smectic liquid crystal films
We report a novel type of two-dimensional colloidal emulsion, in which arrays of disc-shaped liquid crystal domains are created in ultrathin, freely-suspended, fluid smectic C liquid crystal films. After a film has been drawn across an aperture, an island emulsion is produced by repeatedly compressing and expanding the film while maintaining vigorous shear and extensional air flow across its area. Once formed, these emulsions restructure over a period of a few minutes to a stable state that then changes only slowly, over the course of several days. This stability enables study of the sedimentation of the emulsion under in-plane gravitation produced by tilting the film, during which the original island emulsion segregates into regions with different kinds of emulsions distinguished by the size, density, and degree of order of the islands. We observe a rich array of phenomena that includes the formation of chains of islands organized into two-dimensional smectics in the dilute phase, and island deformation and coalescence in the condensed phase.