Thursday, April 30, 2015

Geometry-guided colloidal interactions and self-tiling of elastic dipoles formed by truncated pyramid particles in liquid crystals

Bohdan Senyuk, Qingkun Liu, Ephraim Bililign, Philip D. Nystrom, and Ivan I. Smalyukh

The progress of realizing colloidal structures mimicking natural forms of organization in condensed matter is inherently limited by the availability of suitable colloidal building blocks. To enable new forms of crystalline and quasicrystalline self-organization of colloids, we develop truncated pyramidal particles that form nematic elastic dipoles with long-range electrostaticlike and geometry-guided low-symmetry short-range interactions. Using a combination of nonlinear optical imaging, laser tweezers, and video microscopy, we characterize colloidal pair interactions and demonstrate unusual forms of self-tiling of these particles into crystalline, quasicrystalline, and other arrays. Our findings are explained using an electrostatics analogy along with liquid crystal elasticity and symmetry breaking considerations, potentially expanding photonic and electro-optic applications of colloids.

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