Proceedings PaperInorganic nanosheet liquid crystals and their applications (Conference Presentation)
Liquid crystal (LC) phase of inorganic nanosheets is fascinating system in the field of condensed matter physics and for potential applications in many fields. In this lecture, I present my research on the LC nanosheet colloids derived from clay minerals, layered niobates, layered titnates, and layered perovskites. Structural analyses by small angle X-ray scattering and confocal laser scanning microscopy reveals not only meso-scale lamellar or nematic structures in the LC phase but also fractal-like porous structures. In that structure, the nanosheets show translational and rotational Brownian motions as revealed by fast-scanning confocal microscopy. The structure is tunable by many factors such as nanosheet concentration, nanosheet lateral size, salt concentration, solvent, counter cations, and charge density of the nanosheets. Some optimized systems show variable structural colors which will be useful for color materials and sensor devices. Under ac-electric field, the orientation of the nanosheets and LC domain is easily controllable; the electric field response is applicable for fabrication of electro-optic devices and formation of anisotropic composite materials. Among many future applications, inorganic nanosheet/ polymer composites with precisely controllable hierarchical structure are fascinating. We synthesized a cm-scale mono-domain gel of exfoliated LC clay/polymer composite. The gel is printable with a dye and the colored part shows photo-induced anomalous deformation behavior, which will be applicable as chemical actuators.