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Opt Express. 2013 Aug 26;21(17):19867-79. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.019867.

Dynamic electro-optic response of graphene/graphitic flakes in nematic liquid crystals.


Electric field induced dynamic reorientation phenomenon of graphene/graphitic flakes in homogeneously aligned nematic liquid crystal (NLC) medium has been demonstrated by optical microscopy. The flakes reorient from parallel to perpendicular configuration with respect to boundary plates of confining cells for an applied field strength of as low as tens of millivolt per micrometer. After field removal the reoriented flakes recover to their initial state with the help of relaxation of NLC. Considering flake reorientation phenomenon both in positive and negative dielectric anisotropy NLCs, the reorientation process depends on interfacial Maxwell-Wagner polarization and NLC director reorientation. We propose a phenomenological model based on electric field induced potential energy of graphitic flakes and coupling contribution of positive NLC to generate the rotational kinetic energy for flake reorientation. The model successfully explains the dependence of flake reorientation time over flake shape anisotropy, electric-field strength, and flake area. Using present operating scheme it is possible to generate dark field-off state and bright field-on state, having application potential for electro-optic light modulation devices.

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