Topological Microfluidics: Nematic Liquid Crystals and Nematic Colloids in Microfluidic Environment
This work represents one of the first comprehensive attempts to seamlessly integrate two highly active interdisciplinary domains in soft matter science – microfluidics and liquid crystals (LCs). Motivated by the lack of fundamental experiments, Dr. Sengupta initiated systematic investigation of LC flows at micro scales, gaining new insights that are also suggestive of novel applications. By tailoring the surface anchoring of the LC molecules and the channel dimensions, different topological constraints were controllably introduced within the microfluidic devices. These topological constraints were further manipulated using a flow field, paving the way for Topological Microfluidics. Harnessing topology on a microfluidic platform, as described in this thesis, opens up capabilities beyond the conventional viscous-dominated microfluidics, promising potential applications in targeted delivery and sorting systems, self-assembled motifs, and novel metamaterial fabrications.
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7 Nematic Colloids in Microfluidic Confinement
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alignment angle anisotropy birefringence channel depth channel walls Cholesteric Liquid Crystals colloidal particles confocal corresponding crossed polarizers Cryst defect line defect structures deformation director configuration director field director orientation disclination line downstream droplets elastic equilibrium Ericksen number experimental FCPM image flow direction flow field flow profile flow rate flow regime flow speed flow velocity flow-induced free energy function gradient homeotropic anchoring interaction isotropic isotropic fluids laser polarization LC molecules Lett micro-pillar microchannel microfluidic confinements microfluidic devices microscopy molecules Néel wall nematic 5CB nematic colloids nematic director nematic flow nematic liquid crystal nematic phase observed order parameter PDMS permission from Sengupta Phys pillar plane Poiseuille flow polarization optical microscopy polarized micrographs Polarized optical reorientation Reproduced with permission sample Scale bar Schematic semi-integer shown in Fig soft lithography Soft Matter soft rail stabilized substrate techniques temperature topological charge topological defects typically uniform planar anchoring viscosity µm/s