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High-quality alignment of nematic liquid crystals using periodic nanostructures created by nonlinear laser lithography

Pavlov, Ihor
Rybak, A. S.
Dobrovolskiy, A. M.
Kadan, V. M.
Blonskiy, I. V.
Kazantseva, Z. I.
Gvozdovskyy, I. A.
It is well known that today two main and well studied methods for alignment of liquid crystals has been used, namely: rubbing and photoalignment technologies, that lead to the change of anisotropic properties of aligning layers and long-range interaction of the liquid crystal molecules in a mesophase. In this manuscript, we use the nonlinear laser lithography technique, which was recently presented as a fast, relatively low-cost method for a large area micro and nanogrooves fabrication based on laser-induced periodic surface structuring, as a new perspective method of the alignment of nematic liquid crystals. 920 nm periodic grooves were formed on a Ti layer processed by means of the nonlinear laser lithography and studied as an aligning layer. Aligning properties of the periodic structures of Ti layers were examined by using a combined twist LC cell. In addition, the layer of the nanostructured Ti was coated with an oxidianiline-polyimide film with annealing of the polymer film followed without any further processing. The dependence of the twist angle of LC cells on a scanning speed and power of laser beam during processing of the Ti layer was studied. The azimuthal anchoring energy of Ti layers with a periodic nanostructure was calculated. The maximum azimuthal anchoring energy for the nanostructured Ti layer was about 4.6 x 10(-5) J/m(2), which is comparable to the photoalignment technology. It was found that after the deposition of a polyimide film on the periodic nanostructured Ti layer, the gain effect of the azimuthal anchoring energy to -1 x 10(-4) J/m(2) is observed. Also, AFM study of aligning surfaces was carried out.