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A Self-Quenched Defect Glass in a Colloid-Nematic Liquid Crystal Composite

Science  07 Oct 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6052, pp. 79-83
DOI: 10.1126/science.1209997

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Abstract

Colloidal particles immersed in liquid crystals frustrate orientational order. This generates defect lines known as disclinations. At the core of these defects, the orientational order drops sharply. We have discovered a class of soft solids, with shear moduli up to 104 pascals, containing high concentrations of colloidal particles (volume fraction ϕ>20%) directly dispersed into a nematic liquid crystal. Confocal microscopy and computer simulations show that the mechanical strength derives from a percolated network of defect lines entangled with the particles in three dimensions. Such a “self-quenched glass” of defect lines and particles can be considered a self-organized analog of the “vortex glass” state in type II superconductors.

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