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Physical Review Letters


We study Brownian dynamics of colloidal spheres, with planar anchoring conditions, suspended in the nematic phase of the lyotropic chromonic liquid crystal disodium chromoglycate (DSCG). Unlike typical liquid crystals, the unusually small twist elastic modulus of DSCG permits two energetically distinct helical distortions (twisted tails) of the nematic director to “dress” the suspended spheres. Video microscopy is used to characterize the helical distortions versus particle size and to measure particle mean-square displacements. Diffusion coefficients parallel and perpendicular to the far-field director, and their anisotropy ratio, are different for the two twisted tail configurations. Moreover, the crossover from subdiffusive to diffusive behavior is anomalously slow for motion perpendicular to the director (>100 s). Simple arguments using Miesowicz viscosities and ideas about twist relaxation are suggested to understand the mean-square displacement observations.


This work is freely available courtesy of the American Physical Society. © 2018 American Physical Society

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