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A study of substrate--liquid crystal interaction

Authors Zhang, Baoshe
Issue Date 2003
Summary This thesis concerns the study of substrate-liquid crystal interaction from two different angles. In one approach, we used the IPS (in-plane switching) technique to investigate the liquid crystal alignment by rubbed polyimide films. The IPS mode of liquid crystal cell operation is facilitated through comb electrodes capable of producing planar electric field. We have fabricated comb electrodes with a periodicity of 2 μm in order to confine the planar electric field close to the liquid crystal-substrate interface. Through optical transmittance measurements and comparison with theoretical predictions based on the Ladau-de Gennes formalism, we found the experimental data to be consistent with the physical picture of soft anchoring, in which the liquid crystal director at the substrate interface is rotated azimuthally under the planar electric field. As a result, we were able to obtain the azimuthal anchoring strength as a fitting parameter of the theory. This part of the thesis thus presents evidence(s) for director switching at the liquid crystal-substrate interface, as well as a method for measuring the azimuthal anchoring strength through optical means. In the second approach, we used nano-lithographic technique to fabricate textured two dimensional periodic patterns on silicon wafers, and examined the resulting liquid crystal alignment effect of such textured substrates. It was found that with decreasing periodicity, there exists an orientational transition from a state in which the liquid crystal alignment copies the substrate pattern at larger periodicity, to a state of uniform alignment at smaller periodicity. In our system, this transition occurs at a periodicity between 0.4 μm and 0.8 μm . Through theoretical simulations based on the model of competition between the elastic distortion energy and the interfacial anchoring potential, it was found that there is indeed a first-order abrupt transition when the periodicity is decreased. This is due to the fact that the elastic distortion energy scales as the inverse of the periodicity squared. Hence when the periodicity is decreased, the elastic distortion energy increases rapidly. At the critical periodicity the elastic distortion energy crosses the interfacial anchoring potential, below which the uniform alignment becomes the lower energy state. The uniform-aligned state was confirmed by the excellent theory-experiment agreement on spectral measurements, in conjuction with the optical microscope observations. In the uniform-aligned state, a large pretilt angle (35°) was obtained.
Note Thesis (Ph.D.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2003
Language English
Format Thesis
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