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Halon Liquid Crystals

Halon Liquid Crystals Center researchers have found liquid crystal phases in systems of circular or spherical particles, a surprise since liquid crystals usually appear in molecules shaped like sticks or plates. The trick is to give hard particles (purple) a soft repulsive "halo" (green) The resulting phase behavior is extraordinarily rich, including "lyotropic" liquid crystal phases and a variety of complex modulated crystal phases. These findings dramatically expand the range of possible modes of colloidal self-assembly, and suggest applications in the development of novel photonic crystals and functional nanostructures.