Cellular solid behaviour of liquid crystal colloids 2. Mechanical properties
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This paper presents the results of a rheological study of thermotropic nematic colloids aggregated into cellular structures. Small sterically stabilised PMMA particles dispersed in a liquid crystal matrix densely pack on cell interfaces, but reversibly mix with the matrix when the system is heated above \(\). We obtain a remarkably high elastic modulus, \(\), which is a nearly linear function of particle concentration. A characteristic yield stress is required to disrupt the continuity of cellular structure and liquify the response. The colloid aggregation in a “poor nematic” MBBA has the same cellular morphology as in the “good nematic” 5CB, but the elastic strength is at least an order of magnitude lower. These findings are supported by theoretical arguments based on the high surface tension interfaces of a foam-like cellular system, taking into account the local melting of nematic liquid and the depletion locking of packed particles on interfaces.
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