Ordering of Glass Rods in Nematic and Cholesteric Liquid Crystals

Publication Title

Optical Materials Express

Publication Date


Document Type



nanoparticles, nanorods




The orientational assembly of glass rods (3 x similar to 15 mu m) in nematic, twisted nematic, and cholesteric liquid crystal cells was observed and quantified with optical microscopy. At this size, the rods were affected strongly by gravity and sedimented to the bottom of the cells. Temporal visualization of the sedimentation process (induced by flipping the cell over) shed insight into the effect the liquid crystal order had on the glass rod orientation. For nematic and twisted nematic geometries, the glass rods were aligned parallel to the local director orientation. Control experiments indicate that the rod alignment is not due to capillary flow induced artifacts from fabrication of the sample or due to interactions with the buffed substrates. As evidence, the glass rods rotated 90 degrees as they fell from the top to the bottom of a twisted nematic cell. More complex behavior was observed for cholesteric cells depending on the pitch length. A computational model was developed to predict the elastic energy of the system as a function of the angle between the long axis of the glass rod and the cholesteric liquid crystal director. The model predicted that the elastic energy of the system was minimized when the glass rods remained parallel to the cholesteric liquid crystal director when the pitch was sufficiently long, which agrees with experimental results. (C) 2011 Optical Society of America


This paper was published in Optical Materials Express and is made available as an electronic reprint with the permission of OSA. The paper can be found at the following URL on the OSA website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1364/OME.1.001536. Systematic or multiple reproduction or distribution to multiple locations via electronic or other means is prohibited and is subject to penalties under law.