Controllable ingestion and release of guest components driven by interfacial molecular orientation of host liquid crystal droplets

Ruizhi Yang*, Yueming Deng, Shuting Xie, Mengjun Liu, YiYing Zou, Tiezheng Qian, Qi An, Jiamei Chen, Shitao Shen, Albert van den Berg, Minmin Zhang*, Lingling Shui*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Controllable construction and manipulation of artificial multi-compartmental structures are crucial in understanding and imitating smart molecular elements such as biological cells and on-demand delivery systems. Here, we report a liquid crystal droplet (LCD) based three-dimensional system for controllable and reversible ingestion and release of guest aqueous droplets (GADs). Induced by interfacial thermodynamic fluctuation and internal topological defect, microscale LCDs with perpendicular anchoring condition at the interface would spontaneously ingest external components from the surroundings and transform them as radially assembled tiny GADs inside LCDs. Landau–de Gennes free-energy model is applied to describe and explain the assembly dynamics and morphologies of these tiny GADs, which presents a good agreement with experimental observations. Furthermore, the release of these ingested GADs can be actively triggered by changing the anchoring conditions at the interface of LCDs. Since those ingestion and release processes are controllable and happen very gently at room temperature and neutral pH environment without extra energy input, these microscale LCDs are very prospective to provide a unique and viable route for constructing hierarchical 3D structures with tunable components and compartments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-566
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of colloid and interface science
Issue numberPart A
Early online date14 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2023


  • 2024 OA procedure
  • Liquid crystal
  • Nematic field
  • Topological defect
  • Self-assemble
  • Ingestion
  • Release


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