MSE Seminar: Nicholas Abbott, Cornell University
Molecular Self-Assembly in Topological Defect of Liquid Crystals
Nicholas L. Abbott
Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Topological defects are present in the equilibrium states of many confined liquid crystals (LCs). However, little is understood about molecular-level organization within LC topological defects. We have recently found that the nanoscopic environments defined by LC topological defects can selectively trigger processes of molecular self-assembly. By using fluorescence microscopy, cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and super-resolution optical microscopy, we have observed signatures of molecular self-assembly of amphiphilic molecules in topological defects, including cooperativity, reversibility and controlled growth. We have used the molecular self-assembly process to provide new insights into the nanoscopic structure of LC topological defects. Overall, our results reveal that, in analogy to other classes of macromolecular templates such as polymer-surfactant complexes, topological defects in LCs are a versatile class of three-dimensional, dynamic and reconfigurable templates that can direct processes of molecular self-assembly.