The understanding and application of liquid crystals are among the great scientific and technological achievements of the twentieth century, with integrated electronics and liquid crystal displays combining to enable the portable computing revolution.  As we enter the 21st century the study of liquid crystals offers unparalleled opportunities to advance the basic science and materials design of condensed matter, and to develop new liquid crystal applications. Liquid crystal structural themes are at the core of the effort to pursue supermolecular organization and self-assembly of complex materials. Novel device concepts and materials are forming the basis for for high-performance displays, as well as for advanced photonic devices and other non-display applications of liquid crystalsThe Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center (LCMRC), an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), engages these opportunities as its principal activity. The LCMRC research program is based at the Boulder Campus of the University of Colorado, and directed by Noel Clark, Professor of Physics.

 

Colloidal and Defect Knots in Liquid Crystals

topological colloidColloidal particles dispersed in liquid crystals induce nematic fields and topological defects that are dictated by the topology of the colloidal particles. However, little is known about such interplay of topologies. By taking advantage of two-photon photopolymerization techniques to make knot-shaped microparticles, Center investigator Ivan Smalyukh and co-workers have shown that the interplay of the topologies of the knotted particles, the nematic field and the induced defects leads to knotted, linked and other topologically non-trivial field configurations, and that such mutually tangled configurations satisfy topological constraints and follow predictions from knot theory. (1/14).
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