Liquid crystal colloids are composite materials made up of colloidal particles and liquid crystalline host fluids. After introducing various specific properties of liquid crystal collloids that are absent in conventional colloidal systems, we review our studies, based mainly on computer simulations using Landau-de Gennes theory, to elicudate those properties of liquid crystal colloids. We first present our attempts to investigate the orientational profiles and defect structures of a nematic liquid crystal around one colloidal particle. We successfully reproduce two configurations observed experimentally when strong homeotropic anchoring is imposed at the particle surface; one is a configuration with a hedgehog defect, and in the other, the particle is encircled by a ring defect referred to as a Saturn ring. Next we focus on the interaction between particles mediated by the elastic distortions of the host nematic liquid crystal. We calculate the interaction between particles carrying a hedgehog, and that between particles connected by a birefringent region called a bubble-gum. The properties of those interactions obtained numerically have been recently verified experimentally in a quantitative manner. We also review some of the important and attractive features of liquid crystal colloids not mentioned in the main part of the present paper.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)