The illustration at left depicts the manipulation of defects on the surface layer of a smectic liquid crystal--a class of liquid crystals that form stacks of layers spaced in nanometers--using micropillar templates. Crystals are materials that have molecules arrayed in regular 3-D patterns. Liquid crystals contain some, but not all, of these patterns, and their molecules can flow around one another and change the direction they face. This behavior allows defects--places on the surface where the molecular orientation of the liquid crystals is disrupted. An interdisciplinary team of researchers has introduced a new way to direct the assembly of liquid crystals, generating small features that spontaneously arrange in arrays based on much larger templates.
Visit Website | Image credit: Art courtesy of Felice Macera, Daniel Beller, Apiradee Honglawan and Simon Copar, University of Pennsylvania