Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Edge pinning and transformation of defect lines induced by faceted colloidal rings in nematic liquid crystals

Bohdan Senyuk, Qingkun Liu, Ye Yuan, and Ivan I. Smalyukh

Nematic colloids exhibit a large diversity of topological defects and structures induced by colloidal particles in the orientationally ordered liquid crystal host fluids. These defects and field configurations define elastic interactions and medium-mediated self-assembly, as well as serve as model systems in exploiting the richness of interactions between topologies and geometries of colloidal surfaces, nematic fields, and topological singularities induced by particles in the nematic bulk and at nematic-colloidal interfaces. Here we demonstrate formation of quarter-strength surface-pinned disclinations, as well as a large variety of director field configurations with splitting and reconnections of singular defect lines, prompted by colloidal particles with sharp edges and size large enough to define strong boundary conditions. Using examples of faceted ring-shaped particles of genus g=1, we explore transformation of defect lines as they migrate between locations in the bulk of the nematic host to edge-pinned locations at the surfaces of particles and vice versa, showing that this behavior is compliant with topological constraints defined by mathematical theorems. We discuss how transformation of bulk and surface defect lines induced by faceted colloids can enrich the diversity of elasticity-mediated colloidal interactions and how these findings may impinge on prospects of their controlled reconfigurable self-assembly in nematic hosts.

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