Instructional Review: An Introduction to Optical Methods for Characterizing Liquid Crystals at Interfaces.

Langmuir (Impact Factor: 4.38). 01/2013; 29(10). DOI: 10.1021/la304679f
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT This Instructional Review describes methods and underlying principles that can be used to characterize both the orientations assumed spontaneously by liquid crystals (LCs) at interfaces and the strength with which the LCs are held in those orientations (so-called anchoring energies). The application of these methods to several different classes of LC interfaces is described, including solid and aqueous interfaces as well as planar and non-planar interfaces (such as those that define a LC-in-water emulsion droplet). These methods, which enable fundamental studies of the ordering of LCs at polymeric, chemically-functionalized and biomolecular interfaces, are described in this article at a level that can be easily understood by a non-expert reader such as an undergraduate or graduate student. We focus on optical methods because they are based on instrumentation that is found widely in research and teaching laboratories.

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