Colloidal Liquid Crystals Confined to Synthetic Tactoids

Ioana C. Gârlea*, Oliver Dammone, José Alvarado, Valerie Notenboom, Yunfei Jia, Gijsje H. Koenderink, Dirk G.A.L. Aarts, M. Paul Lettinga, Bela M. Mulder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

When a liquid crystal forming particles are confined to a spatial volume with dimensions comparable to that of their own size, they face a complex trade-off between their global tendency to align and the local constraints imposed by the boundary conditions. This interplay may lead to a non-trivial orientational patterns that strongly depend on the geometry of the confining volume. This novel regime of liquid crystalline behavior can be probed with colloidal particles that are macro-aggregates of biomolecules. Here we study director fields of filamentous fd-viruses in quasi-2D lens-shaped chambers that mimic the shape of tactoids, the nematic droplets that form during isotropic-nematic phase separation. By varying the size and aspect ratio of the chambers we force these particles into confinements that vary from circular to extremely spindle-like shapes and observe the director field using fluorescence microscopy. In the resulting phase diagram, next to configurations predicted earlier for 3D tactoids, we find a number of novel configurations. Using Monte Carlo Simulations, we show that these novel states are metastable, yet long-lived. Their multiplicity can be explained by the co-existence of multiple dynamic relaxation pathways leading to the final stable states.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20391
Number of pages11
JournalScientific Reports
Volume9
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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