Advanced Photon Source

An Office of Science National User Facility

NST Seminar: Directed Self-assembly of Blue Phase Liquid Crystals by Chemically Patterned Surface

Type Of Event
Building Number
Room Number
Xiao Li, The University of Chicago
Daniel Lopez
Start Date
Start Time
11:00 a.m.

Liquid crystals (LCs) are a state matter intermediate between the solid and liquid phases. The unique properties of LCs, such as inherent ordering as liquid phase, optical anisotropy, the ability to response to an external field, make them be widely used for electronic displays, laser devices, photonics, biosensors, metastructures, etc. Fundamental understanding of the morphology and through-film optical properties of LC system, as well as precisely controlling the orientation of LC molecules towards contacting surfaces, are therefore play the central roles in device design and performance. In this seminar, I will present a generalizable platform based on anchoring contrast from chemically patterned surfaces to directed self-assemble (DSA) LC system. I will concentrate on chiral nematic system to expect more complex liquid crystalline morphologies and behaviors. More specifically, I will focus on blue phase liquid crystals (BPLCs), which exhibit ordered cubic arrangements of topological defects. The highly ordered morphology of BPs gives rise to unusual physical properties, such as Bragg reflection of visible light and fast optical response. However, polycrystalline structures limit their performance in applications. Chemically patterned surfaces are presented for the first time to obtain stable, lattice selective, macroscopic single-crystal BP materials. By studying the chemical pattern assisted heterogeneous crystal nucleation and growth process of BPs, the transformation between BPs is found to be martensitic in nature as the result of the collective behavior of the double- twist-cylinders. I will conclude by discussing some of the potential application of these materials, along with the questions and challenges remaining in the field.


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