Toroidal nuclei of columnar lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals coexisting with an isotropic phase†
Nuclei of ordered materials emerging from the isotropic state usually show a shape topologically equivalent to a sphere; the well-known examples are crystals and nematic liquid crystal droplets. In this work, we explore experimentally and theoretically the toroidal in shape nuclei of columnar lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals coexisting with the isotropic phase. The geometry of these toroids depends strongly on concentrations of the disodium cromoglycate (DSCG) and the crowding agent, polyethylene glycol (PEG). High concentrations of DSCG and PEG result in thick toroids with small central holes, while low concentrations yield thin toroids with wide holes. The multitude of the observed shapes is explained by the balance of bending elasticity and anisotropic interfacial tension.