Cholesteric flakes in motion driven by the elastic force from nematic liquid crystals

Wei Liu, Yong Zhou, Sunqian Liu, Wan Shao, Dirk J. Broer, Guofu Zhou, Dong Yuan (Corresponding author), Danqing Liu (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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The paper presents a methodology to control the motion and orientation of suspended reflective cholesteric flakes in a nematic liquid crystal (LC) matrix. The flakes exhibit a dielectric anisotropy which controls their alignment with their in-plane axes parallel to an external electrical dc field. The elastic forces imposed by the LC host affect the switching behavior of the flakes and take care of the realignment to the planar state as soon as the dc field is switched off. When the LC host has a positive dielectric anisotropy, the switching voltage of the flakes is reduced by a factor of 2 in comparison with a LC host with negative dielectric anisotropy or in comparison with an isotropic host. We discovered that the LC host further regulates the back relaxation of cholesteric to return to the planar state upon retrieving the electric field. Whereas, in the isotropic fluid, flakes do not exhibit a preferred orientation when relaxed. Based on this newly proposed principle, we demonstrated its application as an optical switch for smart windows. Depending on the pitch of the cholesteric helix of the flakes, the light of a preset wavelength is reflected. Upon application of an electric field, the embedded flakes rotate their planes perpendicular to the substrate and consequently the incident light becomes fully transmitted without reflection or scattering of light.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40916-40922
Number of pages7
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number43
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2019


  • cholesteric flakes
  • electric-driven
  • liquid crystals
  • nematic elasticity
  • optical switches


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