A high surface area-to-volume ratio in microchannels increases the importance of surface interactions within them. In layered liquids, such as smectic liquid crystals, surface interactions play an important role in the formation of defect textures. We use 8CB liquid crystal, which is in the smectic-A phase at room temperature, as a model layered liquid. PDMS surfaces can be tuned to be hydrophilic or hydrophobic, and due to the nature of liquid crystalline molecules, we show that this results in planar or homeotropic anchoring conditions, respectively. In a confined system, contrary to the bulk, generated defects cannot grow freely. In the present work, we show that the confinement offered by PDMS microchannels along with the capability of creating mixed anchoring conditions within them results in the formation of particular ordered defect textures through increased surface interactions in smectic-A liquid crystals. Our observations imply that microscale confinement is useful for controlling the size, size distribution, and packing structure of microscale defect structures within these materials. In addition, we show that by placing a droplet of smectic-A liquid crystal on a PDMS surface containing microscale parallel cracks, ordered focal conic defects form between two adjacent cracks. The distance between two adjacent cracks dictates the size of the defects. These observations could lead to useful ideas for exploring new technologies for flexible optical devices or displays that utilize smectic-A liquid crystals.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces