Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals Science and Technology Section A: Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals

Network morphology and switching transitions in polymer stabilized cholesteric textures

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We study the fundamental properties of polymer stabilized cholesteric texture (PSCT) liquid crystal cells by (1) characterizing the polymerization process within the liquid crystal medium and, (2) identifying the effects of the resulting polymer network on the switching transition of the cholesteric. We show that monomer solubility is the primary factor determining network morphology-poorly soluble monomers yield coarse structures composed of discrete particles, whereas soluble monomers yield smooth, highly interconnected networks. Following network formation, we use confocal microscopy to obtain in situ images of both the polymer network and the liquid crystal domain structure as the cells are switched between the planar and focal conic textures.