Temperature-induced liquid crystal microdroplet formation in a partially miscible liquid mixture

Mehzabin Patel, Anand N.P. Radhakrishnan, Ludovic Bescher, Elwin Hunter-Sellars, Benjamin Schmidt-Hansberg, Esther Amstad, Stuart Ibsen, Stefan Guldin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Liquid-in-liquid droplets are typically generated by the partitioning of immiscible fluids,e.g.by mechanical shearing with macroscopic homogenisers or microfluidic flow focussing. In contrast, partially miscible liquids with a critical solution temperature display a temperature-dependent mixing behaviour. In this work, we demonstrate how, for a blend of methanol (MeOH) and the thermotropic liquid crystal (LC) 4-Cyano-4′-pentylbiphenyl (5CB), cooling from a miscible to an immiscible state allows the controlled formation of microdroplets. A near-room-temperature-induced phase separation leads to nucleation, growth and coalescence of mesogen-rich droplets. The size and number of the droplets is tunable on the microscopic scale by variation of temperature quench depth and cooling rate. Further cooling induces a phase transition to nematic droplets with radial configuration, well-defined sizes and stability over the course of an hour. This temperature-induced approach offers a scalable and reversible alternative to droplet formation with relevance in diagnostics, optoelectronics, materials templating and extraction processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)947-954
Number of pages8
JournalSoft Matter
Volume17
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 28 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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