Modeling and simulations of nanoparticles in liquid crystalline systems

Benini, Erika (2014) Modeling and simulations of nanoparticles in liquid crystalline systems, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Chimica, 26 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/6478.
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The aim of this work is to investigate, using extensive Monte Carlo computer simulations, composite materials consisting of liquid crystals doped with nanoparticles. These systems are currently of great interest as they offer the possibility of tuning the properties of liquid crystals used in displays and other devices as well as providing a way of obtaining regularly organized systems of nanoparticles exploiting the molecular organization of the liquid crystal medium. Surprisingly enough, there is however a lack of fundamental knowledge on the properties and phase behavior of these hybrid materials, making the route to their application an essentially empirical one. Here we wish to contribute to the much needed rationalization of these systems studying some basic effects induced by different nanoparticles on a liquid crystal host. We investigate in particular the effects of nanoparticle shape, size and polarity as well as of their affinity to the liquid crystal solvent on the stability of the system, monitoring phase transitions, order and molecular organizations. To do this we have proposed a coarse grained approach where nanoparticles are modelled as a suitably shaped (spherical, rod and disk like) collection of spherical Lennard-Jones beads, while the mesogens are represented with Gay-Berne particles. We find that the addition of apolar nanoparticles of different shape typically lowers the nematic–isotropic transition of a non-polar nematic, with the destabilization being greater for spherical nanoparticles. For polar mesogens we have studied the effect of solvent affinity of the nanoparticles showing that aggregation takes places for low solvation values. Interestingly, if the nanoparticles are polar the aggregates contribute to stabilizing the system, compensating the shape effect. We thus find the overall effects on stability to be a delicate balance of often contrasting contributions pointing to the relevance of simulations studies for understanding these complex systems.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Benini, Erika
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze chimiche
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
Nanoparticles Liquid Crystals Monte Carlo simulations Nanocomposites
Data di discussione
9 Aprile 2014

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