Anchoring of liquid crystals on surface-initiated polymeric brushes

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Brushes of poly(ε-caprolactone) are grown by ring-opening polymerization from initiators immobilized on gold surfaces with nanometer-scale topography. Control of the thicknesses of the brushes can be exploited to tune the effect of the underlying nanometer-scale topography on the orientations of supported liquid crystals. Patterned brushes are prepared and imaged by using liquid crystals; thin brushes have an uniform optical texture (graphic above)but over a critical thickness the anchoring becomes nonuniform.