The ability to control and direct the self-assembly of nanoparticles (NPs) into specific geometries with tailored functionalities is a very rich scientific area that has resulted in the development of novel opto-electronic and magnetic devices. In my group, we are investigating a route towards templated soft assembly of semiconducting, metallic, and magnetic NPs by dispersing them in liquid crystal matrices. I will describe our recent work where we control both spatial positioning and spectral properties of nano-assemblies of semiconducting quantum dots in liquid crystal hosts using external controls, including optical excitation and temperature. I will also discuss our plans to apply this soft assembly technique to form interactive binary superlattices, which may ultimately allow us to make ‘designer’ metamaterials.
This work was funded by NSF, UC MERI and UC MEXUS.