Topology is a universal concept that is encountered in daily life and is known to determine many static and dynamical properties of matter. Taming and controlling the topology of materials therefore constitutes a contemporary interdisciplinary challenge. Building on the controllable spatial properties of soft matter appears as a relevant strategy to address the challenge, in particular, because it may lead to paradigmatic model systems that allow checking theories experimentally. Here we report experimentally on a wealth of complex free-standing metastable topological architectures at the micron scale, in frustrated chiral nematic droplets. These results support recent works predicting the formation of free-standing knotted and linked disclination structures in confined chiral nematic fluids. We also demonstrate that various kinds of external fields (thermal, electrical and optical) can be used to achieve topological remote control. All this may foster the development of new devices based on topologically structured soft media.
Orlova, T., Asshoff, S., Yamaguchi, T., Katsonis, N. H., & Brasselet, E. (2015). Creation and manipulation of topological states in chiral nematic microspheres. Nature communications, 6(7603), -. . https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms8603