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Three-dimensional colloidal crystals in liquid crystalline blue phases

img_smaller.jpgEfficient and robust self-assembly of three-dimensional optical structures is one of the »hot topics« in the physics of complex materials. Miha Ravnik, Gareth P. Alexander, Julia M. Yeomans , and Slobodan Žumer (FMF UL, University of Oxford, University of Pennsylvania, and Jožef Stefan Institute) show in their just published paper Three-dimensional colloidal crystals in liquid crystalline blue phases in the PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  USA) that such assembly of 3D optical structures is possible in colloidal dispersions of chiral blue phase liquid crystals.  Blue phase liquid crystals are liquids with a periodic orientational order and cubic symmetry, which authors demonstrate generate a periodic 3D array of trapping sites for colloidal particles. This result opens a new route for the self-assembly of complex materials to be possibly used in future optics and photonics.