Inhomogeneous nematic-isotropic phase transition of a thermotropic liquid crystal doped with iron oxide nanoparticles

Baeckkyoung Sung*, Huan Yan, Chanjoong Kim, Leon Abelmann

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

We elucidate the local distribution and aggregated structure of iron oxide nanoparticles (IONPs; 6 nm in diameter) doped in the matrix of a nematic liquid crystal (LC), 4-cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl, utilizing in situ cryogenic transmission electron microscopy and polarized light microscopy. We show that tens of IONPs aggregate into a sphere-like morphology, and the aggregates combine into elongated clusters with a length of hundreds of nm. With the IONP-doped LC matrix confined to a thin glass cell, we study the nematic-isotropic (N-I) phase transition, and suggest that local heterogeneity of LC textures as seen in polarized microscopy is caused by the existence of IONP aggregate clusters. These clusters act also as nuclei for the formation of isotropic domains upon heating.

Original languageEnglish
Article number126927
JournalPhysics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics
Volume384
Issue number36
Early online date5 Oct 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • 4-cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl (5CB)
  • Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM)
  • Iron oxide nanoparticle (IONP)
  • Nematic-isotropic phase transition
  • Polarized light microscopy
  • Thermotropic liquid crystal

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