Scientific reports

Topological switching and orbiting dynamics of colloidal spheres dressed with chiral nematic solitons.

PMID 25477195


Metastable configurations formed by defects, inclusions, elastic deformations and topological solitons in liquid crystals are a promising choice for building photonic crystals and metamaterials with a potential for new optical applications. Local optical modification of the director or introduction of colloidal inclusions into a moderately chiral nematic liquid crystal confined to a homeotropic cell creates localized multistable chiral solitons. Here we induce solitons that "dress" the dispersed spherical particles treated for tangential degenerate boundary conditions, and perform controlled switching of their state using focused optical beams. Two optically switchable distinct metastable states, toron and hopfion, bound to colloidal spheres into structures with different topological charges are investigated. Their structures are examined using Q-tensor based numerical simulations and compared to the profiles reconstructed from the experiments. A topological explanation of observed multistability is constructed.