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Light-controlled skyrmions and torons as reconfigurable particles

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posted on 2023-11-30, 19:05 authored by Hayley R. O. Sohn, Changda D. Liu, Ivan I. Smalyukh
Topological solitons, such as skyrmions, arise in field theories of systems ranging from Bose-Einstein condensates to optics, particle physics, and cosmology, but they are rarely accessible experimentally. Chiral nematic liquid crystals provide a platform to study skyrmions because of their natural tendency to form twisted structures arising from the lack of mirror symmetry at the molecular level. However, large-scale dynamic control and technological utility of skyrmions remain limited. Combining experiments and numerical modeling of chiral liquid crystals with optically controlled helical pitch, we demonstrate that low-intensity, unstructured light can control stability, dimensions, interactions, spatial patterning, self-assembly, and dynamics of these topological solitons.

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