Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Liquid crystal research may lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled

Date:
December 27, 2012
Source:
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Summary:
Contributing geometric and topological analyses of micro-materials, mathematicians aided experimental physicists by successfully explaining the observed "beautiful and complex patterns revealed" in three-dimensional liquid crystal experiments. The work is expected to lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled.

This image shows polarized light interacting with a particle injected into a liquid crystal medium.
Credit: Bohdan Senyuk and Ivan Smalyukh, Colorado University

Contributing geometric and topological analyses of micro-materials, University of Massachusetts Amherst mathematician Robert Kusner aided experimental physicists at the University of Colorado (UC) by successfully explaining the observed "beautiful and complex patterns revealed" in three-dimensional liquid crystal experiments. The work is expected to lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled.

Kusner is a geometer, an expert in the analysis of variational problems in low-dimensional geometry and topology, which concerns properties preserved under continuous deformation such as stretching and bending. His work over 3 decades has focused on the geometry and topology of curves, surfaces and other spaces that arise in nature, such as soap films, knots and the shapes of fluid droplets. Kusner agrees with physicist and lead author Ivan Smalyukh of UC Boulder that their collaboration is the first to show in experiments that some of the most fundamental topological theorems hold up in real materials. Their findings appear in the current early online issue of Nature.

UMass Amherst's Kusner explains, "There are two important aspects of this work. First, the experimental work by the Colorado team, who fabricated topologically complex micro-materials allowing controlled experiments of three-dimensional liquid crystals. Second, the theoretical work performed by us mathematicians and theoretical physicists while visiting the University of California Santa Barbara's Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP). We provided the geometric and topological analysis of these experiments, to explain the observed patterns and predict what patterns should be seen when experimental conditions are changed."

Kusner was the lone mathematician among four organizers of last summer's workshop on "Knotted Fields" at KITP, which led to this work. The workshop engaged about a dozen other mathematicians and about twice as many theoretical and experimental physicists in a month-long investigation of the interplay between low-dimensional topology and what physicists call "soft matter."

In their experiments, the physicists at UC Boulder showed that tiny topological particles injected into a liquid crystal medium behave in a manner consistent with established theorems in geometry and topology, Kusner says. The researchers say they have thus identified approaches for building new materials using topology.

UC Boulder's Smalyukh and colleagues set up the experiment by first creating colloids, solutions in which tiny particles are dispersed but not dissolved in a host medium, such as milk, paint and shaving cream. Specifically, they injected tiny, different-shaped particles into a liquid crystal, which behaves something like a liquid and a solid. Once injected into a liquid crystal, the particles behaved as predicted by topology.

Smalyukh says, "Our study shows that interaction between particles and molecular alignment in liquid crystals follows the predictions of topological theorems, making it possible to use these theorems in designing new composite materials with unique properties that cannot be encountered in nature or synthesized by chemists. These findings lay the groundwork for new applications in experimental studies of low-dimensional topology, with important potential ramifications for many branches of science and technology."

For example, he adds, these topological liquid crystal colloids could be used to upgrade current liquid crystal displays like those used in laptops and television screens, to allow them to interact with light in new, more energy efficient ways.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bohdan Senyuk, Qingkun Liu, Sailing He, Randall D. Kamien, Robert B. Kusner, Tom C. Lubensky, Ivan I. Smalyukh. Topological colloids. Nature, 2012; DOI: 10.1038/nature11710

Cite This Page:

University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "Liquid crystal research may lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 December 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227110803.htm>.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst. (2012, December 27). Liquid crystal research may lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227110803.htm
University of Massachusetts at Amherst. "Liquid crystal research may lead to creation of new materials that can be actively controlled." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121227110803.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways

AP (July 30, 2014) British officials said on Wednesday that driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program set to begin in January. Officials said the tests will last up to three years. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow

AP (July 30, 2014) Smartphone powered paper airplane that was popular on crowdfunding website KickStarter makes its debut at Wisconsin airshow (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

U.K. To Allow Driverless Cars On Public Roads

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Driverless cars could soon become a staple on U.K. city streets, as they're set to be introduced to a few cities in 2015. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

More Coverage


Physicists Creates 'recipe Book' For Building New Materials

Dec. 28, 2012 By showing that tiny particles injected into a liquid crystal medium adhere to existing mathematical theorems, physicists have opened the door for the creation of a host of new materials with ... read more
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins