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Through A Glass, Darkly: Obtaining Quantitative Information from Microscope Images of Liquid Crystals – Tim Atherton

Date: Tue. April 13th, 2010, 12:30 pm-1:30 pm
Location: Rockefeller 221

Liquid Crystalline phases are identified by their beautiful textures when viewed under the polarizing microscope. These two-dimensional textures contain much information about the ordering of the liquid crystal, but it is generally difficult to extract quantitative information from them since the mapping from the order parameter field to the image is not injective. More sophisticated imaging methods have been developed such as Fluorescence Confocal Microscopy and Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopy, which offer three-dimensional images of LC ordering but nonetheless pose further challenges to their interpretation. In this talk I discuss several examples of how these techniques may be used to reveal the fundamental physics of surface ordering, defect structure and phase transitions.

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