• G. D'Adamo, D. Marenduzzo, C. Micheletti, and E. Orlandini
    Electric field controlled columnar and planar patterning of cholesteric colloids
    Phys. Rev. Lett., 2015, 114 , art. no. 177801
    Link to online article Cover article for the May 1 2015 issue of Phys Rev Lett.

    Selected for a Synopsis in Physics and an Editors' Suggestion.

  • Abstract
    We study how dispersions of colloidal particles in a cholesteric liquid crystal behave under a time-dependent electric field. By controlling the amplitude and shape of the applied field wave, we show that the system can be reproducibly driven out of equilibrium through different kinetic pathways and navigated through a glassy-like free energy landscape encompassing many competing metastable equilibria. Such states range from simple Saturn rings to complex structures featuring amorphous defect networks, or stacks of disclination loops. A non-equilibrium electric field can also trigger the alignment of particles into columnar arrays, through defect-mediated force impulses, or their repositioning within a plane. Our results are promising in terms of providing new avenues towards controlled patterning and self-assembly of soft colloid-liquid crystal composite materials.