Mohan Srinivasarao
School of Materials Science & Engineering
School of chemistry and Biochemistry
Georgia Institute of Technology

Lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals

Location: EB1 Room 1011

Friday, September 18th 2015 - 11:00 am

Lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals (LCLCs) are a relatively new class of liquid crystals (LCs) that have attracted considerable attention in recent years. Applications of these materials have been explored as polarizers, optical compensators, biosensors, precursors of aligned graphene and templates for mesoporous nanofibers. LCLCs consist of many dyes, drugs, nucleic acids, antibiotics, carcinogens and anti-cancer agents. In this talk I will explore the spontaneous emergence of chiral structures from achiral lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals when confined to cylindrical capillaries with various boundary conditions. When confined to a cylindrical geometry with planar boundary conditions, the presumed ground state of a nematic fluid corresponds to that of an axial configuration, where the director, free of deformations, lies along the long axis of the cylinder. However, upon confinement of lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals in cylindrical geometries, we uncover a surprising ground state corresponding to a doubly twisted director configuration. The stability of this ground state, which involves significant director deformations, can be rationalized by the saddle-splay contribution to the free energy. It will be shown that sufficient anisotropy in the elastic constants drives the transition from a deformation-free ground state to a doubly twisted structure, and results in spontaneous reflection symmetry breaking with equal propensity for either handedness. Enabled by the twist angle measurements of the spontaneous twist, we determine the saddle-splay elastic constant for chromonic liquid crystals. I will also discuss the path to a monodomain or a single crystal, if you will, of chromonic liquid crystals confined to a rectangular capillary enabled by a spontaneous twist deformation.

North Carolina State University