Long term phase separation dynamics in liquid crystal-enriched microdroplets obtained from binary fluid mixtures†
The dynamics of long term phase separation in binary liquid mixtures remains a subject of fundamental interest. Here, we study a binary liquid mixture, where the minority phase is confined to a liquid crystal (LC)-rich droplet, by investigating the evolution of size, defect and mesogen alignment over time. We track the binary liquid mixture evolving towards equilibrium by visualising the configuration of the liquid crystal droplet through polarisation microscopy. We compare our experimental findings with computational simulations and elucidate differences between bulk phases and confined droplets based on the respective thermodynamics of phase separation. Our work provides insights on how phase transitions on the microscale can deviate from bulk phase diagrams with relevance to other material systems, such as the liquid–liquid phase separation of polymer and protein solutions.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Soft Matter Emerging Investigators Series