74th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Fluid Dynamics (November 21, 2021 — November 23, 2021)

P0029: Winding snakes in flowing nematic liquid crystals: chiral structures built from achiral building blocks

  • Qing Zhang, MIT
  • Rui Zhang, HKUST
  • Shuang Zhou, UMass Amherst
  • Irmgard Bischofberger, MIT
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/APS.DFD.2021.GFM.P0029

Chirality, which denotes the absence of mirror symmetry, is ubiquitous in both inanimate and living systems. How to produce and control chirality is a fascinating problem in different disciplines of biology, chemistry, and engineering.

Chiral structures are commonly built by chiral molecules. Here, we show that achiral building blocks of a nematic liquid crystal can also produce chiral structures when the material flows in a microfluidic channel. This is a very rare phenomenon. Such flow-induced chirality provides a new way for obtaining spontaneous symmetry breaking, which may have potential applications in optical devices and for controlling assembly in biological systems.

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