In a nematic phase, the molecules are positionally disordered but one molecular axis is oriented along a common direction. This phase is common and well-understood. Much rarer and much less understood is the biaxial nematic phase in which all three molecular axes are aligned. We propose to combine experimental studies of a biaxial nematic phase with the use of computer modelling studies. The extra symmetry of the biaxial phase means that the system will exhibit new physics as compared to the normal nematic phase. We propose to study colloidal particles in this biaxial phase, where the extra symmetry will make different structures stable as compared to the standard nematic and thus widen the range of photonic applications. The results obtaine d in this project will provide important structural information about the liquid crystals molecules and arrangements based on the correct interpretation and modeling of scattering data.
News published in Agência FAPESP Newsletter about the scholarship: