Our research is focused on self-assembly in nematic colloids. We use optical tweezers to manipulate colloidal particles in nematic liquid crystals and we measure the forces and potential of colloidal interactions, mediated by the nematic. The aim of our research is to understand how and why small particles assemble in regular 2D patterns, which may lead to interesting photonic application in the future, such as 3D photonic crystals and metamaterials, self-assembled from solid particles in nematics. In 2004, we have observed and explained unusual trapping properties of laser tweezers in nematics, which was followed in 2006 by a discovery of 2D crystalization of colloidal particles in nematics, published in Science.
Image of a 2D nematic colloidal crystal, assembled by laser tweezers in the nematic liquid crystal, as seen under a polarizing microscope. The diameter of silica beads is 2.9 um and the colours are due to birefringence of the nematic.
Group of Soft and Partially Ordered Matter, 2008
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