AbstractsPhysical Sciences

Colloidal Dispersions in Fluid Media: Electric, Magnetic and Light Control

by Sergi Hernández Navarro

Institution: Universitat de Barcelona
Year: 2015
Keywords: Col·loides; Coloides; Colloids; Difusió; Difusión; Diffusion; Cristalls líquids; Cristales líquidos; Liquid crystals; Interfícies (Ciències físiques); Interfases (Ciencias físicas); Interfaces (Physical sciences); Electroforesi; Electroforesis; Electrophoresis; Ciències Experimentals i Matemàtiques
Record ID: 1127835
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10803/292362


In the present thesis I have worked with particle dispersion in water as well as in liquid crystal. As the first study of this thesis, I have studied the aggregation of isotropic (spherical) and elongated anisometric (pear-shaped) colloidal particles in aqueous medium, confined in two dimensions when subjected to perpendicular external alternating current (AC) electric fields. For low frequencies (f < 2.5kHz) the electrohydrodynamic flow is predominant, and particles tend to aggregate in clusters. On the contrary, for higher frequencies the repulsive dipolar interaction dominates, and particles disperse. Although both types of particles feature a similar behavior under AC field, pear-shaped particles present a richer phase diagram, that is, they have more phases than the spherical ones. I have also found that pear-shaped particles tend to form smaller and more elongated aggregates, with faster aggregation kinetics. I have also tested different ways to measure the strength of the colloidal aggregates using magnetic probes. The following studies of this thesis focus on colloidal dispersions in liquid crystals, which are widely used nowadays to clarify new fundamental concepts and original applications.(1–5) Nematic liquid crystals (NLC) are anisotropic organic fluids whose molecules exhibit the positional disorder of a liquid, but are aligned in a certain direction (called the director of the NLC) (6,7). The director field is usually controlled by certain boundary conditions imposed on the plates of the experimental cell. As a novel way to determine the director orientation, I have demonstrated that paramagnetic anisometric inclusions can be used to locally control the in-plane orientation of the director field by means of external weak magnetic fields. To better understand the phenomenon I have also developed a theoretical model based on the free energy density of the NLC. Additionally, I have found that, by rotating the paramagnetic inclusions more than 100º from their initial orientation, a target pattern of dark and light alternated circles appear. This phenomenon is also captured by the model proposed. In the third phase of this project, I have investigated the controlled motion of micrometer inclusions dispersed in a nematic liquid crystal, propelled by an alternating current (AC) electric field. Recently it has been reported in the literature that micrometric particles can be propelled in NLC by using AC fields, provided that these particles break the symmetry of the NLC director around them. The mechanism explaining this propulsion is called Liquid Crystal-Enabled Electrophoresis (LCEEP) (3). By taking advantage of this mechanism, I have demonstrated that aqueous microdroplets are also propelled by LCEEP. One can make these droplets transport solid polystyrene microparticles, or perform a chemical reaction by coalescing two microdroplets containing separate reactants. In addition, I have also demonstrated the control of the activation or deactivation of LCEEP by using photosensitive particles, which…