Self-Organized, One-Dimensional Periodic Structures in a Gold Nanoparticle-Doped Nematic Liquid Crystal Composite.ACS Nano 2019AN
Composite structures exhibiting a periodic arrangement of building blocks can be found in natural systems at different length scales. Recreating such systems in artificial composites using the principles of self-assembly has been a great challenge, especially for 1D microscale systems. Here, we present a purposely designed composite material consisting of gold nanoparticles and a nematic liquid crystal matrix that has the ability to self-create a periodic structure in the form of a one-dimensional photonic lattice through a phase separation process occurring in a confined space. Our strategy is based on the use of a thermoswitchable medium that reversibly and quickly responds to both heating and cooling. We find that the period of the structure is strongly related to the size of the confining space. We believe that our findings will allow us to not only better understand the phase separation process in multicomponent soft/colloid mixtures with useful optical properties but also improve our understanding of the precise assembly of advanced materials into one-dimensional periodic systems, with prospective applications in future photonic technologies.