We demonstrate that the assembly of an amphiphilic polyamine on the interfaces of micrometer-sized droplets of a thermotropic liquid crystal (LC) dispersed in aqueous solutions can be used to facilitate the immobilization of LC droplets on chemically functionalized surfaces. Polymer 1 was designed to contain both hydrophobic (alkylfunctionalized) and hydrophilic (primary and tertiary amine-functionalized) side chain functionality. The assembly of this polymer at the interfaces of aqueous dispersions of LC droplets was achieved by the spontaneous adsorption of polymer from aqueous solution. Polymer adsorption triggered transitions in the orientational ordering of the LCs, as observed by polarized light and bright-field microscopy. We demonstrate that the presence of polymer 1 on the interfaces of these droplets can be exploited to immobilize LC droplets on planar solid surfaces through covalent bond formation (e.g., for surfaces coated with polymer multilayers containing reactive azlactone functionality) or through electrostatic interactions (e.g., for surfaces coated with multilayers containing hydrolyzed azlactone functionality). The characterization of immobilized LC droplets by polarized, fluorescence, and laser scanning confocal microscopy revealed the general spherical shape of the polymer-coated LC droplets to be maintained after immobilization, and that immobilization led to additional ordering transitions within the droplets that were dependent on the nature of the surfaces with which they were in contact. Polymer 1-functionalized LC droplets were not immobilized on polymer multilayers treated with poly(ethylene imine) (PEI). We demonstrate that the ability to design surfaces that promote or prevent the immobilization of polymer-functionalized LC droplets can be exploited to pattern the immobilization of LC droplets on surfaces. The results of this investigation provide the basis of an approach that could be used to tailor the properties of dispersed LC emulsions and to immobilize these droplets on functional surfaces of interest in a broad range of fundamental and applied contexts.
Kinsinger, Michael I.; Buck, Maren E.; Abbott, Nicholas L.; and Lynn, David M., "Immobilization of Polymer-Decorated Liquid Crystal Droplets on Chemically Tailored Surfaces" (2010). Chemistry: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.