Dennis Gardner, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, January 2009
Dennis Gardner is a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder working with Professor Ivan I. Smalyukh and the Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center. He studies the self-assembly and self-alignment of nanoparticles in LC. Currently, he is investigating the stabilization of blue phase using CdSe quantum dots and quantum rods provided by your collaborators at the Sate University of New York at Buffalo. Dennis’s earlier work provided evidence to suspect that the quantum dots and rods will self-assemble into the isotropic cores of the disclination lattice of blue phase I thus reducing the elastic free. Reducing the elastic free energy of BP I would allow for BP I to exist for a larger temperature range.
This picture shows blue phase I of a short pitch cholesteric. The cholesteric is TI-827 (Merck) with 300nm pitch at room temperature. The sample is sandwiched between glass substrates with 4μm spacers. The sample was held at 48.8°C with a HCS302 Instec heat stage. Using an Olympus IX81 microscope with a 10X (0.30 NA) objective I took the picture with a Nikon D300 digital camera. The picture corresponds to roughly 1600μm by 1200μm of the sample. Jury comment: a beautiful example of a liquid crystal blue phase, captured with crisp quality and strong colors.