There has been a recent surge of interest in smart materials and devices with stimuli-responsive properties for optical modulations. Cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) are a unique class of light-manipulating materials, and strongly interact with light and other electromagnetic (EM) waves. Because of their intricate helical structure, new properties of CLC have emerged revealing unique optical behavior that has resulted in rewriting Braggs’ law for how light interacts with soft materials. The aim of this work is to push the limits of spectral tuning with a new method of augmenting light-cholesteric interactions using a polymer-sustained conical helix (PSCH) structure. We experimentally explore the reversibility of reflective wavelength modulation and validate the mechanism enhanced by a polymer-sustained helicoidal structure via theoretical analyses. The conical helix structure of a CLC, formed by low-field-induced oblique orientation of cholesteric helices, is comprised of a chiral dopant, a conventional nematic, and bimesogenic and trimesogenic nematics. Polymerizing a small amount of a reactive mesogen in the CLC with an applied electric field produces a templated helical polymer network that enables three switched optical states, including light-scattering and transparent states as well as color reflection in response to an applied increasing or decreasing electric field. An electro-activated PSCH optical film covers a wide color space, which is appropriate for tunable color device applications. We envisage that this PSCH material will lead to new avenues for controlling EM waves in imaging and thermal control, smart windows and electronic papers.
|Publication status||Published - 2 Apr 2019|
- chemical physics
- liquid crystals
- liquid-crystal dimers