Topological binding and elastic interactions of microspheres and fibres in a nematic liquid crystal

  • M. Nikkhou
  • M. Škarabot
  • I. Muševič
Regular Article


We present a detailed analysis of topological binding and elastic interactions between a long, and micrometer-diameter fiber, and a microsphere in a homogeneously aligned nematic liquid crystal. Both objects are surface treated to produce strong perpendicular anchoring of the nematic liquid crystal. We use the opto-thermal micro-quench of the laser tweezers to produce topological defects with prescribed topological charge, such as pairs of a Saturn ring and an anti-ring, hyperbolic and radial hedgehogs on a fiber, as well as zero-charge loops. We study the entanglement and topological charge interaction between the topological defects of the fiber and sphere and we observe a huge variety of different entanglement topologies and defect-mediated elastic bindings. We explain all observed phenomena with simple topological rule: like topological charges repel each other and opposite topological charges attract. These binding mechanisms not only demonstrate the fascinating topology of nematic colloids, but also open a novel route to the assembly of very complex topological networks of fibers, spheres and other objects for applications in liquid crystal photonics.

Graphical abstract


Soft Matter: Liquid crystals 


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Copyright information

© EDP Sciences, SIF, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.J. Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  2. 2.Faculty of Mathematics and PhysicsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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