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).

DOI: 10.1063/1.4802774

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.

Return to Publications page