Title

Fully Stable And Homogeneous Lyotropic Liquid Crystal Alignment On Anisotropic Surfaces

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-26-2017

Published In

Advanced Functional Materials

Abstract

Lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals have great potential in both biosensing and optical devices due to their biocompatible nature and strong optical characteristics. These applications, however, demand a homogeneous and stable alignment on anisotropic surfaces, a challenge that, so far, has not been solved adequately. In this work, it is shown how to drastically increase the quality of in-plane alignment and stability of these liquid crystals on conventional rubbed polyimide substrates by the addition of a small amount of a nonionic surfactant. Samples with surfactant show excellent alignment that is stable for months, while control samples without surfactant show much poorer alignment that further deteriorates in days. Also, well-aligned dry films of chromonics can be prepared following this approach. It is demonstrated how to obtain high-quality alignment by controlling the concentration and the nature of the surfactant, in particular its molecular structure and hydrophilic/lipophilic balance (HLB value) and other critical parameters are discussed. It is believed that this approach may very well be essential for advancing the applicability of these water-based, biocompatible, and often highly dichroic materials for a wide range of uses.