Liquid crystals (LCs) are not only fascinating materials that find their way into every household as display devices but also equally essential forms of matter present in living systems. LCs possess a unique nature of self-assembly into a long-range orientational ordered fluid. The average direction of liquid crystal molecular alignment, defined as director n, acts as an optic axis, leading to anisotropic elasticity, topological defects, and optical birefringence. Such an ordered fluid brings an additional complexity of minimizing total elastic deformation and conservation of the topological defect strength during the deformation induced by shape or non-LC inclusions. The topological defects are regions where the elastic deformation is high and facilitating the minimization of elastic deformation via colloidal interactions. In this talk, I briefly review the LC colloids and 2D and 3D self-organizing colloidal structures facilitated by elastically mediated topological defects. Moreover, recently demonstrated AC field-driven self-assembly of 2D defect arrays in a thin nematic LC medium will be discussed. Finally, I will show the possibility of combining solid-state functional micro and nano-scale particles into LC systems for next-generation applications.
Dr. Jampani was introduced to the soft matter research field, specifically to liquid crystals (LCs), during his Ph.D. research in physics under Prof. Igor Muševič, Jožef Stefan Institute, Slovenia. In 2013, he moved to a post-doc position in Dr. Christian Bahr’s group, Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization, Göttingen, Germany. In 2014, he moved to Dr. Fumito Araoka group, RIKEN, Japan. In 2015, he joined the group of Prof. Jan Lagerwall at the University of Luxembourg, as a post-doctoral researcher. In 2018, he became an FNR fellow, Junior PI, at the University of Luxembourg hosted by Prof. Jan Lagerwall. His research is mainly focused on liquid crystal colloids and photonic applications of liquid crystals using self-assembly of topological defects in liquid crystals as a key strategy.