Field-controlled structures in ferromagnetic cholesteric liquid crystals.
ABSTRACT: One of the advantages of anisotropic soft materials is that their structures and, consequently, their properties can be controlled by moderate external fields. Whereas the control of materials with uniform orientational order is straightforward, manipulation of systems with complex orientational order is challenging. We show that a variety of structures of an interesting liquid material, which combine chiral orientational order with ferromagnetic one, can be controlled by a combination of small magnetic and electric fields. In the suspensions of magnetic nanoplatelets in chiral nematic liquid crystals, the platelet's magnetic moments orient along the orientation of the liquid crystal and, consequently, the material exhibits linear response to small magnetic fields. In the absence of external fields, orientations of the liquid crystal and magnetization have wound structure, which can be either homogeneously helical, disordered, or ordered in complex patterns, depending on the boundary condition at the surfaces and the history of the sample. We demonstrate that by using different combinations of small magnetic and electric fields, it is possible to control reversibly the formation of the structures in a layer of the material. In such a way, different periodic structures can be explored and some of them may be suitable for photonic applications. The material is also a convenient model system to study chiral magnetic structures, because it is a unique liquid analog of a solid helimagnet.
Project description:A helimagnet is a chiral magnet in which the direction of the magnetic moment spatially rotates in a plane perpendicular to the propagation vector. The sense of the rotation known as spin helicity is a robust degree of freedom of matter and may provide a new concept of magnetic memory if it can be electrically controlled and detected. Here we show that the helicity can be controlled by magnetic fields and electric currents in an itinerant helimagnet MnP. Second-harmonic resistivity measurements allow us to read out the controlled helicity. In contract to an insulating multiferroic magnet, in which spin rotation was shown to be controllable by an electric field, we achieve helicity manipulation by using an electric current in the conducting helimagnet. The controllability of the spin helicity may pave the way to new method of realizing magnetic memories based on the spin internal degrees of freedom.
Project description:Liquid crystals are widely known for their facile responses to external fields, which forms a basis of the modern information display technology. However, switching of molecular alignment field configurations typically involves topologically trivial structures, although singular line and point defects often appear as short-lived transient states. Here, we demonstrate electric and magnetic switching of nonsingular solitonic structures in chiral nematic and ferromagnetic liquid crystals. These topological soliton structures are characterized by Hopf indices, integers corresponding to the numbers of times that closed-loop-like spatial regions (dubbed "preimages") of two different single orientations of rod-like molecules or magnetization are linked with each other. We show that both dielectric and ferromagnetic response of the studied material systems allow for stabilizing a host of topological solitons with different Hopf indices. The field transformations during such switching are continuous when Hopf indices remain unchanged, even when involving transformations of preimages, but discontinuous otherwise.
Project description:Optical textures and appropriate orientational structures have been studied within droplets of chiral nematic dispersed in polymer assigning the homeotropic anchoring. The helix axis of the chiral structure inside droplets forms the bipolar configuration. The optical droplet textures were analysed in the unpolarised light, analyser switching-off scheme and in crossed polarisers. The twisted loop defect reveals itself convincingly in all schemes. Its appearance at the optical patterns of the chiral nematic droplets has been examined depending on their size and the aspect direction. The existence of the defect has been verified by the structural and optical calculations. The effect of an electric field on both the defect line shape and the orientational structure of chiral nematic has been studied.
Project description:Liquid crystals (LCs) are among the most prominent materials of the current information age, mainly due to their well-known application in liquid crystal displays (LCDs). Their unique electro-optical properties stem from their ability to form organised structures (mesophases) on the transition from solid state to isotropic liquid. Molecules of LCs in a mesophase still maintain the anisotropy of solid crystals, while simultaneously exhibiting the fluidity of liquids, which gives the system the ability to react immediately to external stimuli such as electric or magnetic fields, light, mechanical stress, pressure and, of course, temperature. For the proper function of LC-based devices, not only chemical, but also optical purity of materials is strongly desirable, since any impurity could be detrimental to the self-assembly of the molecules. Therefore, in this study we aimed to verify synthetic methods published in the literature, which are used nowadays to prepare chiral building blocks based on lactic acid, for their enantioselectivity. Moreover, we have focused on the development of an analytical chiral separation method for target liquid crystalline materials. Using a chiral polysaccharide-based column operated in liquid chromatography mode, we show that not all published methods of LC synthesis are enantioselective, which could lead to significant differences in the properties of the resulting materials. We show that high-performance liquid chromatography with UV detection and supercritical fluid chromatography with UV and mass spectrometry detection enable full control over the chemical and optical purity of the target LCs and the corresponding chiral building blocks. For the first time, we utilise supercritical fluid chromatography with mass detection for the direct chiral analysis of liquid crystalline materials and impurities formed during the synthesis.
Project description:The control of physical properties by external fields is essential in many contemporary technologies. For example, conductance can be controlled by a gate electric field in a field effect transistor, which is a main component of integrated circuits. Optical phenomena induced by an electric field such as electroluminescence and electrochromism are useful for display and other technologies. Control of microwave propagation is also important for future wireless communication technology. Microwave properties in solids are dominated mostly by magnetic excitations, which cannot be easily controlled by an electric field. One solution to this problem is to use magnetically induced ferroelectrics (multiferroics). Here we show that microwave nonreciprocity, that is, different refractive indices for microwaves propagating in opposite directions, could be reversed by an external electric field in a multiferroic helimagnet Ba<sub>2</sub>Mg<sub>2</sub>Fe<sub>12</sub>O<sub>22</sub>. This approach offers an avenue for the electrical control of microwave properties.
Project description:The discrimination of enantiomers is crucial in biochemistry. However, chiral sensing faces significant limitations due to inherently weak chiroptical signals. Nanophotonics is a promising solution to enhance sensitivity thanks to increased optical chirality maximized by strong electric and magnetic fields. Metallic and dielectric nanoparticles can separately provide electric and magnetic resonances. Here we propose their synergistic combination in hybrid metal-dielectric nanostructures to exploit their dual character for superchiral fields beyond the limits of single particles. For optimal optical chirality, in addition to maximization of the resonance strength, the resonances must spectrally coincide. Simultaneously, their electric and magnetic fields must be parallel and π/2 out of phase and spatially overlap. We demonstrate that the interplay between the strength of the resonances and these optimal conditions constrains the attainable optical chirality in resonant systems. Starting from a simple symmetric nanodimer, we derive closed-form expressions elucidating its fundamental limits of optical chirality. Building on the trade-offs of different classes of dimers, we then suggest an asymmetric dual dimer based on realistic materials. These dual nanoresonators provide strong and decoupled electric and magnetic resonances together with optimal conditions for chiral fields. Finally, we introduce more complex dual building blocks for a metasurface with a record 300-fold enhancement of local optical chirality in nanoscale gaps, enabling circular dichroism enhancement by a factor of 20. By combining analytical insight and practical designs, our results put forward hybrid resonators to increase chiral sensitivity, particularly for small molecular quantities.
Project description:Breaking of spatial inversion symmetry induces unique phenomena in condensed matter. In particular, by combining this symmetry with magnetic fields or another type of time-reversal symmetry breaking, noncentrosymmetric materials can be made to exhibit nonreciprocal responses, which are responses that differ for rightward and leftward stimuli. However, the effect of spatial inversion symmetry breaking on thermal transport in uniform media remains to be elucidated. Here, we show nonreciprocal thermal transport in the multiferroic helimagnet TbMnO<sub>3</sub> The longitudinal thermal conductivity depends on whether the thermal current is parallel or antiparallel to the vector product of the electric polarization and magnetization. This phenomenon is thermal rectification that is controllable with external fields in a uniform crystal. This discovery may pave the way to thermal diodes with controllability and scalability.
Project description:Chiral solitons are one dimensional localized magnetic structures that are metastable in some ferromagnetic systems with Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interactions and/or uniaxial magnetic anisotropy. Though topological textures in general provide a very interesting playground for new spintronics phenomena, how to properly create and control single chiral solitons is still unclear. We show here that chiral solitons in monoaxial helimagnets, characterized by a uniaxial Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction, can be stabilized with external magnetic fields. Once created, the soliton moves steadily in response to a polarized electric current, provided the induced spin-transfer torque has a dissipative (nonadiabatic) component. The structure of the soliton depends on the applied current density in such a way that steady motion exists only if the applied current density is lower than a critical value, beyond which the soliton is no longer stable.
Project description:Various experimental and theoretical studies demonstrate that complex stimulus-responsive out-of-plane distortions such as twist of different chirality, emergence of cones, simple and anticlastic bending can be engineered and pre-programmed in a liquid crystalline rubbery material given a well-controlled director microstructure. Via 3-d finite element simulation studies, we demonstrate director-encoded chiral shape actuation in thin-film nematic polymer networks under external stimulus. Furthermore, we design two complex director fields with twisted nematic domains and nematic disclinations that encode a pattern of folds for an auto-origami box. This actuator will be flat at a reference nematic state and form four well-controlled bend distortions as orientational order changes. Device fabrication is applicable via current experimental techniques. These results are in qualitative agreement with theoretical predictions, provide insight into experimental observations, and demonstrate the value of finite element methods at the continuum level for designing and engineering liquid crystal polymeric devices.
Project description:Dissipation-less electric control of magnetic state variable is an important target of contemporary spintronics. The non-volatile control of magnetic skyrmions, nanometre-sized spin-swirling objects, with electric fields may exemplify this goal. The skyrmion-hosting magnetoelectric chiral magnet Cu2OSeO3 provides a unique platform for the implementation of such control; however, the hysteresis that accompanies the first-order transition associated with the skyrmion phase is negligibly narrow in practice. Here we demonstrate another method that functions irrespective of the transition boundary. Combination of magnetic-susceptibility measurements and microwave spectroscopy reveals that although the metastable skyrmion lattice is normally hidden behind a more thermodynamically stable conical phase, it emerges under electric fields and persists down to the lowest temperature. Once created, this metastable skyrmion lattice remains without electric fields, establishing a bistability distinct from the transition hysteresis. This bistability thus enables non-volatile electric-field control of the skyrmion lattice even in temperature/magnetic-field regions far from the transition boundary.