23 May 2013 Pyroelectric manipulation of liquid crystal droplets
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Abstract
Very interesting effects can be observed in maneuvering nematic liquid crystal (NLC) droplets onto functionalized polar lithium niobate (LN) crystal surfaces, covered with thin films of Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS). It has been discovered that pyroelectric effect is able to drive a reversible fragmentation process in liquid crystal drops, starting from nanoliter drops and obtaining pico/femtoliter droplets. These small droplets are patterned according to the geometry of the substrate and aligned along the electric field lines. This novel approach for manipulating different classes of liquids by exploiting the pyroelectric effect, where the strong electric fields generated allow to manipulate liquids in 2D on a substrate or even in 3D, has been recently discovered and exploited for different purposes. In particular, manipulation of liquid crystals by a thermal stimulus could be suitable for applications such as spatial modulation of the wettability (i.e. wettability patterning), or, in principle, a dynamical optical element able to switch from a diffuser (fragmentation) state to a microlens array. Moreover, the biocompatibility of some kinds of nematic or cholesteric liquid crystals makes them suitable as biomaterials for applications in biology and tissue engineering.
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F. Merola, F. Merola, S. Grilli, S. Grilli, S. Coppola, S. Coppola, V. Vespini, V. Vespini, S. De Nicola, S. De Nicola, P. Maddalena, P. Maddalena, C. Carfagna, C. Carfagna, P. Ferraro, P. Ferraro, } "Pyroelectric manipulation of liquid crystal droplets", Proc. SPIE 8792, Optical Methods for Inspection, Characterization, and Imaging of Biomaterials, 87920V (23 May 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2020555; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2020555
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