PerspectiveLIQUID CRYSTALS

When the smallest details count

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Science  21 Aug 2020:
Vol. 369, Issue 6506, pp. 918-919
DOI: 10.1126/science.abd3548

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Summary

Natural and synthetic micro- and nanoparticles—in an appropriate solvent and within a given range of concentration, pressure, and temperature—can form colloidal liquid crystalline systems that combine the optical properties of crystals (anisotropy) and the fluidity of liquids. The particles are largely anisotropic, with one or two characteristic dimensions much larger than the third. The particles can also be bent or curved or, if derived from natural materials, can have chiral interactions, all of which can affect how the particles self-assemble and form liquid crystalline phases. On page 950 of this issue, Fernández-Rico et al. (1) report on a simple method allowing the production of large quantities of polydisperse colloidal synthetic rods from a viscous photoresin. They imposed a well-controlled curvature on these rods by fine-tuning the cross-link density of the resin and the temperature. They show that curvature has pronounced effects on the liquid crystalline phase behavior.

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