Nanohybrid materials with tunable birefringence via cation exchange in polymer films

Bernette Oosterlaken, Y. Xu, Mark van Rijt, Marina Pilz Da Cunha, Gilles Timmermans, Michael Debije, Heiner Friedrich, Albert Schenning (Corresponding author), Nico Sommerdijk (Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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In this work, a nanohybrid material based on a freestanding polymeric liquid crystal network capable of postmodification via cation exchange to tune birefringence is proposed. The smectic liquid crystal films can be infiltrated with a variety of cations, thereby changing the refractive indices (n e and n o) and the effective birefringence (Δn) of the nanohybrid material, with reversible cation infiltration occurring within minutes. Birefringence could be tuned between values of 0.06 and 0.19, depending on the cation infiltrated into the network. Upon infiltration, a decrease in the smectic layer spacing is found with layer contraction independent of the induced change in birefringence. Potential applications are in the field of specialty optical devices, such as flexible, retunable reflective filters.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1907456
Number of pages6
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020


  • birefringence
  • cation infiltration
  • liquid crystals
  • nanohybrid materials
  • tunable optical properties


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