Topological defects easily form in liquid crystals (LCs) as a result of frustrations in spatially dependent anisotropic molecular ordering, and have been regarded as promising tools for facilitating manipulation of relatively large non-LC materials such as colloids. However, it remains unclear whether low-molecular-weight (LMW) impurities that do not aggregate or self-assemble in bulk LCs because of the dominance of entropy can localise at LC defects. Here, by fluorescence microscopy, we directly show the localisation of LMW molecules at the topological line defects of a nematic LC. It is theoretically explained that excess free energy density of nematic ordering at the defect core allows LMW solutes to accumulate at a non-negligible level overcoming the entropy leading to their uniform distributions. Our results demonstrate the usefulness of LC defects as a bottom-up field that enables micromanipulation of LMW molecules and realisation of transformable three-dimensional micro-architectures composed of versatile small functional molecules.
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