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Boundary Geometry Effects on the Coalescence of Liquid Crystalline Tactoids and Formation of Topological Defects

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posted on 30.01.2019 by Orla O’Keeffe, Pei-Xi Wang, Wadood Y. Hamad, Mark J. MacLachlan
In many lyotropic liquid crystals, the evolution of macroscopic anisotropic phases is mediated by tactoids, which are discrete ordered microdroplets existing in continuous disordered phases. Here we report the effects of boundary conditions on the movement and transformation of liquid crystalline tactoids of cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) in nonspherical droplets. Using an in situ photopolymerization method, we obtained three-dimensional views of the initial emergence and expansion of macroscopic ordered phases. These processes, as well as the evolution of topological defects, were significantly influenced by the boundary geometry (or Marangoni flows and pinning effects) of the droplets. This phenomenon helps explain the influence of the substrate on the photonic properties of chiral nematic films of CNCs and may also provide new insights into the self-assembly process in lyotropic liquid crystals.

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