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Dynamic Diffractive Patterns in Helix-Inverting Cholesteric Liquid Crystals

: Ryabchun, A.; Yakovlev, D.; Bobrovsky, A.; Katsonis, N.


ACS applied materials & interfaces 11 (2019), Nr.11, S.10895-10904
ISSN: 1944-8244
ISSN: 0013-936X
ISSN: 1944-8252
Fraunhofer IAP ()

The future of adaptive materials will rely on transduction of molecular motion across increasing length scales, up to the macroscopic and functional level. In this context, liquid crystals have emerged as a promising amplification medium, in view of their long-range order and high sensitivity to external stimuli, and in particular, chiral liquid crystals have demonstrated widely tunable optical properties and invertible handedness. Here, we demonstrate that by applying weak electric fields, regular, periodic and light-tunable patterns can be formed spontaneously in cholesteric liquid crystals. These patterns can be used as light-tunable diffraction gratings for which the period, the diffraction efficiency, and the in-plane orientation of grating vector can be controlled precisely, reversibly, and independently. Such a photoregulation allows generating a variety of one- and two-dimensional complex diffractive patterns in a single material. Our data are also supported by modeling and theoretical calculations. Overall, the fine tunability of cholesteric materials doped with artificial molecular switches makes them attractive for optics and photonics.