Ultrasmall ZnS or PbS nanorods encapsulated in fluid-like soft organic surfactants show excellent miscibility in the nematic liquid crystal (LC ZLI-4792) host resulting in a novel soft matter type blend with enhanced electro-optic properties. The ultranarrow ZnS rods are of wurtzite phase and possess a chemical bipolarity and a net dipole moment. The centrosymmetric ultranarrow PbS rods possess a finite size and shape dependent inherent dipole moment despite their cubic rocksalt structure. When an electric field is applied, the blend aligns along the direction of the field producing a local unidirectional orientation of the rods and LC directors, and defining a unique axis for the system. The local ordering significantly affects the global ordering of the blend allowing a more rapid response of the electro-optic properties. The degree and switching speed of the blends depend upon the magnitude of dipole moments present in the dopant nanorods. We show how a non-mesogenic element designed with preferential crystallographic phase can be introduced within a LC for improvement of the switching properties of the LC blend. These types of unique blends are a model for fundamental conceptual advances in general understanding of interaction behaviour leading consequently to a significant technological advancement for superior device fabrication.
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