Liquid crystalline cellulose-based nematogels

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  18 Aug 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 8, e1700981
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1700981


Physical properties of composite materials can be pre-engineered by controlling their structure and composition at the mesoscale. However, approaches to achieving this are limited and rarely scalable. We introduce a new breed of self-assembled nematogels formed by an orientationally ordered network of thin cellulose nanofibers infiltrated with a thermotropic nematic fluid. The interplay between orientational ordering within the nematic network and that of the small-molecule liquid crystal around it yields a composite with highly tunable optical properties. By means of combining experimental characterization and modeling, we demonstrate submillisecond electric switching of transparency and facile responses of the composite to temperature changes. Finally, we discuss a host of potential technological uses of these self-assembled nematogel composites, ranging from smart and privacy windows to novel flexible displays.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text