Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Möbius strip ties liquid crystal in knots to produce tomorrow's materials and photonic devices

Date:
August 20, 2013
Source:
University of Warwick
Summary:
Scientists have shown how to tie knots in liquid crystals using a miniature Möbius strip made from silica particles.

Liquid crystal knots created around miniature Möbius strip particles (simulation). Different knots are produced by strips with different numbers of twists. The central part of the knot is shown in red around the strip in blue. Examples are shown for (A) two (Hopf link), (B) three (trefoil knot), (C) four (Solomon's knot) and (D) five (cinquefoil knot) twists.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Warwick

University of Warwick scientists have shown how to tie knots in liquid crystals using a miniature Möbius strip made from silica particles.

By tying substances like this in knots, the researchers hope to understand how their intricate configurations and unique properties can be harnessed in the next generation of advanced materials and photonic devices.

Liquid crystal is an essential material in modern life -- the flat panel displays on our computers, TVs and smartphones all make use of its light-modulating properties.

It is composed of long, thin, rod-like molecules which align themselves so they all point in the same direction. By controlling the alignment of these molecules, scientists can literally tie them in a knot.

To do this, they simulated adding a micron sized silica particle -- or colloid -- to the liquid crystal. This disrupts the orientation of the liquid crystal molecules.

For example, a colloid in the shape of a sphere will cause the liquid crystal molecules to align perpendicular to the surface of the sphere, a bit like a hedgehog's spikes.

Using a theoretical model, the University of Warwick scientists have taken this principle and extended it to colloids which have a knotted shape in the form a Möbius strip.

A Möbius strip with one twist does not form a knot, however with three, four and five twists it becomes a trefoil knot (like an overhand knot with the ends joined together), a Solomon's knot or a cinquefoil knot respectively.

By adding these specially designed knotted particles they force the liquid crystal to take on the same structure, creating a knot in the liquid crystal.

Gareth Alexander, Assistant Professor in Physics and Complexity Science, at the University of Warwick said: "Knots are fascinating and versatile objects, familiar from tying your shoelaces.

"Recently it has been demonstrated that knots can be created in a variety of natural settings including electromagnetic fields, laser light, fluid vortices and liquid crystals.

"These knots are more intricate than those in your shoelaces, since it is the entire continuous material, and not just a piece of string, that is knotted.

"Our research extends this previous work to apply to liquid crystal, the substance we use every day in our TVs, smartphones and computer screens.

"We are interested in this as creating and controlling these intricate knotted fields is an emergent avenue for the design of new metamaterials and photonic devices."

The research was funded by the EPSRC.


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. T. Machon, G. P. Alexander. Knots and nonorientable surfaces in chiral nematics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1308225110

Cite This Page:

University of Warwick. "Möbius strip ties liquid crystal in knots to produce tomorrow's materials and photonic devices." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820094450.htm>.
University of Warwick. (2013, August 20). Möbius strip ties liquid crystal in knots to produce tomorrow's materials and photonic devices. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820094450.htm
University of Warwick. "Möbius strip ties liquid crystal in knots to produce tomorrow's materials and photonic devices." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130820094450.htm (accessed September 21, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

Thousands March in NYC Over Climate Change

AP (Sep. 21, 2014) — Accompanied by drumbeats, wearing costumes and carrying signs, thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Manhattan and other cities around the world on Sunday to urge policy makers to take action on climate change. (Sept. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

What This MIT Sensor Could Mean For The Future Of Robotics

Newsy (Sep. 20, 2014) — MIT researchers developed a light-based sensor that gives robots 100 times the sensitivity of a human finger, allowing for "unprecedented dexterity." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

MIT BioSuit A New Take On Traditional Spacesuits

Newsy (Sep. 19, 2014) — The MIT BioSuit could be an alternative to big, bulky traditional spacesuits, but the concept needs some work. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

New Music With Recycled Instruments at Colombia Fest

AFP (Sep. 19, 2014) — Jars, bottles, caps and even a pizza box, recovered from the trash, were the elements used by four musical groups at the "RSFEST2014 Sonorities Recycling Festival", in Colombian city of Cali. Duration: 00:49 Video provided by AFP
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:
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