Supervisor: Francesca Serra
Among the many types of liquid crystal phases, smectic liquid crystals are very interesting. In smectics, the liquid crystal molecules tend to be aligned with each other but they also tend to be arranged in parallel fluid layers. When a droplet of smectic liquid crystals comes into contact with a solution of water and surfactants, the surface of the droplet becomes unstable and breaks into long, thin fibers that work as light-guides, where the smectic molecular layers are arranged as the layers of a leek.
These liquid fibers are currently very difficult to control and manipulate. We propose to control them using surfaces patterned with grooves and other topographical obstacles that can gently guide the direction and the localization of the fibers. The project involves the realization and characterization of the fibers with optical microscopy, the fabrication of the substrates with hard and soft lithography and the study of the fibers’ stability over patterned substrates.