Rods In A Lyotropic Chromonic Liquid Crystal: Emergence Of Chirality, Symmetry-Breaking Alignment, And Caged Angular Diffusion
In lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals (LCLCs), twist distortion of the nematic director costs much less energy than splay or bend distortion. This feature leads to novel mirror-symmetry breaking director configurations when the LCLCs are confined by interfaces or contain suspended particles. Spherical colloids in an aligned LCLC nematic phase, for example, induce chiral director perturbations (“twisted tails”). The asymmetry of rod-like particles in an aligned LCLC offer a richer set of possibilities due to their aspect ratio (α) and mean orientation angle (〈θ〉) between their long axis and the uniform far-field director. Here we report on the director configuration, equilibrium orientation, and angular diffusion of rod-like particles with planar anchoring suspended in an aligned LCLC. Video microscopy reveals, counterintuitively, that two-thirds of the rods have an angled equilibrium orientation (〈θ〉 ≠ 0) that decreases with increasing α, while only one-third of the rods are aligned (〈θ〉 = 0). Polarized optical video-microscopy and Landau–de Gennes numerical modeling demonstrate that the angled and aligned rods are accompanied by distinct chiral director configurations. Angled rods have a longitudinal mirror plane (LMP) parallel to their long axis and approximately parallel to the substrate walls. Aligned rods have a transverse and longitudinal mirror plane (TLMP), where the transverse mirror plane is perpendicular to the rod's long axis. Effectively, the small twist elastic constant of LCLCs promotes chiral director configurations that modify the natural tendency of rods to orient along the far-field director. Additional diffusion experiments confirm that rods are angularly confined with strength that depends on α.
S. Ettinger et al.
"Rods In A Lyotropic Chromonic Liquid Crystal: Emergence Of Chirality, Symmetry-Breaking Alignment, And Caged Angular Diffusion".