Liquid-crystal mediated nanoparticle interactions and gel formation
JK Whitmer and AA Joshi and TF Roberts and JJ de Pablo, JOURNAL OF CHEMICAL PHYSICS, 138, 194903 (2013).
Colloidal particles embedded within nematic liquid crystals exhibit strong anisotropic interactions arising from preferential orientation of nematogens near the particle surface. Such interactions are conducive to forming branched, gel-like aggregates. Anchoring effects also induce interactions between colloids dispersed in the isotropic liquid phase, through the interactions of the pre-nematic wetting layers. Here we utilize computer simulation using coarse-grained mesogens to perform a molecular-level calculation of the potential of mean force between two embedded nanoparticles as a function of anchoring for a set of solvent conditions straddling the isotropic-nematic transition. We observe that strong, nontrivial interactions can be induced between particles dispersed in mesogenic solvent, and explore how such interactions might be utilized to induce a gel state in the isotropic and nematic phases. (C) 2013 AIP Publishing LLC.
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