Focal conic flowers, dislocation rings, and undulation textures in smectic liquid crystal Janus droplets†
Liquid crystalline phases of matter often exhibit visually stunning patterns or textures. Mostly, these liquid crystal (LC) configurations are uniquely determined by bulk LC elasticity, surface anchoring conditions, and confinement geometry. Here, we experimentally explore defect textures of the smectic LC phase in unique confining geometries with variable curvature. We show that a complex range of director configurations can arise from a single system, depending on sample processing procedures. Specifically, we report on LC textures in Janus drops comprised of silicone oil and 8CB in its smectic-A LC phase. The Janus droplets were made in aqueous suspension using solvent-induced phase separation. After drop creation, smectic layers form in the LC compartment, but their self-assembly is frustrated by the need to accommodate both the bowl-shaped cavity geometry and homeotropic (perpendicular) anchoring conditions at boundaries. A variety of stable and metastable smectic textures arise, including focal conic domains, dislocation rings, and undulations. We experimentally characterize their stabilities and follow their spatiotemporal evolution. Overall, a range of fabrication kinetics produce very different intermediate and final states. The observations elucidate assembly mechanisms and suggest new routes for fabrication of complex soft material structures in Janus drops and other confinement geometries.