Ideal, defect-free, cuboidal single crystals of arbitrary shape have been sculpted within a second ideal crystal for the first time.
Significance and Impact
The crystals created here reflect visible light at precise wave lengths. By sculpting a first crystal within a second one, it is possible to create switchable optical patterns that could not be produced before and that exhibit extremely fast, reversible transformations under applied voltage. They offer significant potential for display, wave guide, and sensing applications.
- The single crystals were created by assembling blue-phases of chiral liquid crystals on surfaces patterned using liquid crystalline polymer brushes.
- Advanced multi-scale simulations of liquid crystalline materials were used to design patterns within patterns, thereby sculpting one type of crystal lattice within another with which to guide the liquids’ assembly.
- The resulting crystals are stable over wide ranges of temperature and undergo transformations with only a small fraction of the power that is required for traditional liquid crystal phases used in modern displays.
Work was performed at Argonne National Laboratory.
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