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Self-assembly of three-dimensional colloidal crystals in nematics

3D.jpgThe paper Assembly and control of 3D nematic dipolar colloidal crystals was just published in the journal Nature Communications by authors A. Nych, U. Ognysta, M. Škarabot, M. Ravnik, S. Žumer, and I. Muševič, all from "Jožef Stefan" Institute and Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (FMF) University of Ljubljana. The paper reports on the self-assembly and controllable reconfigurability of three-dimensional nematic colloidal crystals. Experimentally, the colloidal crystals are assembled from spherical colloidal beads by using optical tweezers manipulation, with the assembly based on elastic and topological characteristics of the nematic medium. The structures were predicted with numerical modelling, using computer clusters at FMF. The demonstrated colloidal crystal shows interesting properties of giant electrostriction and electro-rotation when exposed to homogeneous external electric field.