Self-assembling liquid crystal architectures for soft matter photonics

Schematic configurations, representative textures, and promising applications of nematic phase LCs, smectic phase LCs, cholesteric phase LCs, blue phase LCs, and bio-based LCs. Credit: Ling-Ling Ma, Chao-Yi Li, Jin-Tao Pan, Yue-E Ji, Chang Jiang, Ren Zheng, Ze-Yu Wang, Yu Wang, Bing-Xiang Li, Yan-Qing Lu

“Soft matter” was first proposed by Pierre Gilles de Gens in his 1991 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. The term describes substances that are between hydrated substances and ideal solids.

Soft materials with a variety of complex configurations, color patterns, precarious states and macroscopic ductility have provided valuable inspiration for meeting modern challenges in both optics and photonics. Self-assembled liquid crystal (LC) represents one of the most attractive soft material systems. Their microstructures show superior properties of easy fabrication, fine tuning, high flexibility, and remarkable stimuli response.

Over the past years, photovoltaic systems based on LCs (thermal and biological model LCs based on LCs) have undergone a flourishing development, giving rise to new phenomena, functions and applications. As such, it is of great importance to discuss recent developments in soft matter photons based on LC (Soft Mattonics) architectures from a comprehensive perspective to provide a valuable reference for the future development of the related field.

In a new article published in Light: science and applicationsa team of scientists led by Professor Yan Qing Lu from the National Solid State Microstructures Laboratory, the Main Laboratory for Intelligent Optical Sensing and Manipulation, College of Engineering and Applied Science, Nanjing University, China, and colleagues conducted a systematic and comprehensive review of bridging various dynamically tunable LC architectures with their diverse applications in Soft Mattifications.

In this paper the basic definitions, physical propertiesmanipulation schemes, thermodynamic modular LC capability and bio-based Lyotropic-oriented LCs are described in detail, including nematic phase LCs, smectic phase LCs, cholesteric phase LCs, blue phase LCs, and cellulose.

Microstructures bridge the inherent properties of nanomaterials and important functions, and play an important role in the development of ideal LC-based optics and photonics. To control LC microstructures, at one end of the spectrum is the creation. This can be achieved by combining a “top-down” manufacturing technique and a “bottom-up” self-assembly process for letters of credit.

For example, substrates with 3D topographical surface patterning can be used to create ordered topological defect arrays; The 2D optically aligned layer creates a flexible structure for 3D LC superstructures. At the other end of the spectrum is the elaborate tunability of LC architectures. Several efforts have been devoted to this field to manipulate LC structures dynamically, by introducing heat, electricity, light, stress and magnetic fields.

With the presented work, Lu and colleagues provided an overview of LC-based devices in the rapidly growing field of Soft Mattonics, including smart displays, optical imaging, light field modulators, soft actuators, and smart windows. It brings attractive, tunable, efficient and versatility functionalities/performances to soft material based visual platforms. These scientists also highlight both the challenges and opportunities these materials have towards soft matter photonics:

  1. large-scale production and processing;
  2. achieving the best relationships between “structure, properties and function”;
  3. Combine letters of credit with other soft materials;
  4. Seamless integration of soft material materials with existing optical components;
  5. Integration of letters of credit with sophisticated electronic and robotic systems;
  6. LC stages are newly discovered.

Further exploration of this topic will not only expand the knowledge of Soft Mattonics, but also encourage interdisciplinary research from professionals across different disciplines and enhance diverse soft and smart photonic applications.


Predict the phase stability of a soft material


more information:
Ling-Ling Ma et al, Self-assembled liquid crystal architectures for soft matter photonics, Light: science and applications (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41377-022-00930-5

the quote: Self-Assembled Liquid Crystal Architectures for Soft Material Photonics (2022, September 15) Retrieved September 15, 2022 from

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