Interaction of Surfactants and Polyelectrolyte-Coated Liquid Crystal Droplets


It is known that the adsorption of surfactants at the liquid crystal (LC)/aqueous interface can induce a bipolar-to-radial director configuration of LC droplets dispersed in aqueous solution. In this paper, we study the effect of charged polyelectrolyte-coating on the interaction of surfactants and LC droplet cores by observing the director configuration of the LC droplet cores as a function of surfactant concentrations. It is found that surfactants can penetrate into the polyelectrolyte coating and react with the LC droplet cores to induce the bipolar-to-radial transition of the LC inside the droplet cores. However, the concentration of charged surfactants required to induce the configuration transition of the LC droplet cores is affected by the charged polyelectrolyte coating. The effect is significantly enlarged with decreasing the alkyl chain length of charged surfactants. Our results highlight the possibility of engineering polyelectrolyte coatings to tune the interaction of LC droplets with analysts, which is critical towards designing LC droplet based sensors.

Share and Cite:

Bera, T. and Fang, J. (2014) Interaction of Surfactants and Polyelectrolyte-Coated Liquid Crystal Droplets. Journal of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering, 2, 1-7. doi: 10.4236/msce.2014.211001.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


[1] Volovik, G.E. and Lavrentovich, O.D. (1983) Topological Dynamics of Defects: Boojums in Nematic Drops. Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics, 58, 1159-1167.
[2] Hsu, P., Poulin, P. and Weitz, D.A. (1998) Rotational Diffusion of Monodisperse Liquid Crystal Droplets. Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 200, 182-184.
[3] Juodkazis, S., Shikata, M., Takahashi, T., Matsuo, S. and Misawa, H. (1999) Fast Optical Switching by a Laser Manipulated Microdroplet of Liquid Crystal. Applied Physics Letters, 74, 3627-3629.
[4] Wood, T.A., Gleeson, H.F., Dickinson, M.R. and Wright, A.J. (2004) Mechanisms of Optical Angular Momentum Transfer to Nematic Liquid Crystalline Droplets. Applied Physics Letters, 84, 4292-4294.
[5] Brasselet, E., Murazawa, N., Misawa, H. and Juodkazis, S. (2009) Optical Vortices from Liquid Crystal Droplets. Physical Review Letters, 103, 103903.
[6] Miller, D.S., Wang, X. and Abbott, N.A. (2014) Design of Functional Materials Based on Liquid Crystalline Droplets. Chemistry of Materials, 26, 496-506.
[7] Lin, I.H., Miller, D.S., Bertics, P.J., Murphy, C.J., de Pablo, J.J. and Abbott, N.L. (2011) Endotoxin-Induced Structural Transformations in Liquid Crystalline Droplets. Science, 332, 1297-1300.
[8] Umbanhowar, P.B., Prasad, V. and Weitz, D.A. (2000) Monodisperse Emulsion Generation via Drop Break off in a Coflowing Stream. Langmuir, 16, 347-351.
[9] Tixier, T., Heppenstall-Butler, M., Terentjev, E.M., Tixier, T., Heppenstall-Butler, M. and Terentjev, E.M. (2006) Spontaneous Size Selection in Cholesteric and Nematic Emulsions. Langmuir, 22, 2365-2370.
[10] Tjipto, E., Cadwell, K.D., Quinn, J.F., Johnston, A.P.R., Caruso, F. and Abbott, N.L. (2006) Tailoring the Interfaces between Nematic Liquid Crystal Emulsions and Aqueous Phases via Layer-by-Layer Assembly. Nano Letters, 6, 2243-2248.
[11] Simon, K.A., Sejwal, P., Gerecht, R.B. and Luk, Y.-Y. (2007) Water-in-Water Emulsions Stabilized by Non-Amphiphilic Interactions: Polymer-Dispersed Lyotropic Liquid Crystals. Langmuir, 23, 1453-1458.
[12] Kinsinger, M.L., Buck, M.E., Abbott, N.L. and Lynn, D.M. (2010) Immobilization of Polymer-Decorated Liquid Crystal Droplets on Chemically Tailored Surfaces. Langmuir, 26, 10234-10242.
[13] Zou, J., Bera, T., Davis, A.A., Liang, W. and Fang, J.Y. (2011) Director Configuration Transitions of Polyelectrolyte Coated Liquid-Crystal Droplets. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 115, 8970-8974.
[14] Aliño, V.A., Pang, J. and Yang, K.L. (2011) Liquid Crystal Droplets as a Hosting and Sensing Platform for Developing Immunoassays. Langmuir, 27, 11784-11789.
[15] Khan, W., Choi, J.H., Kim, G.M. and Park, S.Y. (2011) Microfluidic Formation of pH Responsive 5CB Droplets Decorated with PAA-b-LCP. Lab on a Chip, 11, 3493-3498.
[16] Bera, T. and Fang, J.Y. (2012) Polyelectrolyte-Coated Liquid Crystal Droplets for Detecting Charged Macromolecules. Journal of Materials Chemistry, 22, 6807-6812.
[17] Aliño, V.J., Sim, P.H., Choy, W.T., Fraser, A. and Yang, K.Y. (2012) Detecting Proteins in Microfluidic Channels Decorated with Liquid Crystal Sensing Dots. Langmuir, 28, 17571-17577.
[18] Manna, U., Zayas-Gonzalez, Y.M., Carlton, R.J., Caruso, F., Abbott, N.L. and Lynn, D.M. (2013) Liquid Crystal Chemical Sensors That Cells Can Wear. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 52, 14011-14015.
[19] Kim, J., Khan, M. and Park, S.Y. (2013) Glucose Sensor Using Liquid-Crystal Droplets Made by Microfluidics. ACS Applied Materials Interfaces, 5, 13135-13139.
[20] Bera, T. and Fang, J.Y. (2014) Protein-Induced Configuration Transition of Polyelectrolyte-Modified Liquid Crystal Droplets. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 118, 4970-4977.
[21] Murazawa, N., Juodkazis, S. and Misawa, H. (2005) Characterization of Bipolar and Radial Nematic Liquid Crystal Droplets Using Laser-Tweezers. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 38, 2923-2927.
[22] Bera, T. and Fang, J.Y. (2013) Optical Detection of Lithocholic Acid with Liquid Crystal Emulsions. Langmuir, 29, 387-392.
[23] Malone, S.M. and Schwartz, D.K. (2008) Polar and Azimuthal Alignment of a Nematic Liquid Crystal by Alkylsilane Self-Assembled Monolayers: Effects of Chain-Length and Mechanical Rubbing. Langmuir, 24, 9790-9794.
[24] Price, A.D. and Schwartz, D.K. (2007) Fatty-Acid Monolayers at the Nematic/Water Interface: Phases and Liquid-Crystal Alignment. The Journal of Physical Chemistry B, 111, 1007-1015.
[25] Brake, J.M. and Abbott, N.L. (2002) An Experimental System for Imaging the Reversible Adsorption of Amphiphiles at Aqueous-Liquid Crystal Interfaces. Langmuir, 18, 6101-6109.
[26] Fang, J.Y., Gehlert, U., Shashidhar, R. and Knobler, C.M. (1999) Imaging the Azimuthal Tilt Order in Monolayers by Liquid Crystal Optical Amplification. Langmuir, 15, 297-299.

Copyright © 2023 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.