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Nematic liquid crystal gyroids as photonic


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DOI: 10.1080/02678292.2016.1215562


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Nematic liquid crystal gyroids as photonic crystals

Jure Aplinc, Mitja timulak, Simon opar & Miha Ravnik

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Nematic liquid crystal gyroids as photonic crystals

Jure Aplinca, Mitja timulaka, Simon opara and Miha Ravnika,b
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia; bCondensed Matter Physics Department, Jozef Stefan
Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia


We demonstrate nematic and cholesteric liquid crystal (LC) gyroids and show their photonic Received 14 June 2016
properties as photonic crystals by using numerical modelling. The LC gyroids are designed as
composite optical materials, where we take one labyrinth of passages to be a solid dielectric, Nematic liquid crystals;
whereas the other (complementing) labyrinth of passages is taken to be filled by chiral or achiral gyroids; photonic crystals;
nematic LC, with the intermediate gyroid surface imposing homeotropic (perpendicular) surface topological defects; chirality
anchoring. The nematic inside the gyroid matrix is shown to exhibit a variety of possible orienta-
tional profiles which are characterised by complex networks of topological defects from ordered,
semi-ordered, to completely disordered. The diversity of possible nematic states is shown to lead to
a rich structure of photonic bands, which can be tuned by the LC volume fraction and the
cholesteric pitch, including control over full direct and indirect band gaps.

1. Introduction elaborately assembled structures.[11] An especially

attractive class of such optical materials are self-
Controlling the flow-of-light at the micro-scale is today
assembled bicontinuous phases, formed spontaneously
one of the major challenges in the optical sciences, with
from organic lipids or diblock copolymers into triply
far-reach applications including optical computing,[1]
periodic surfaces with constant mean curvature, a special
ultrafast dynamics,[2] advanced microscopy,[3] metama-
case of which are the Schwarz P- and D-surfaces and the
terials [4] and photonic crystals.[5] The key challenges in
gyroid.[12,13] The gyroid is unique among the simplest
this advanced light control are how to manipulate light at
minimal surfaces for separating the space into two inter-
wavelength and sub-wavelength length scales and how to
locking spaces with opposite chiralities, which makes it an
achieve the system response at fast and ultrafast time-
interesting template for optically active photonic crystals.
scales. Today, for spatial modulation, the state-of-the-art
The gyroid structure can be found in biological materials,
approaches rely on lithography [6] and self-assembly
such as butterfly wings,[14,15] as well as artificial media,
[7,8] whereas for time modulation, fast and ultra-fast
[16] creating various photonic materials,[1720] tem-
laser pulse modulation is used.[9]
plates, moulds and scaffolds for growth of crystals [21]
Photonic crystals derive their properties from periodic
and microstructured metals.[2224]
structure of their refractive index in 1D, 2D or 3D
Complex materials based on liquid crystalline com-
which can be realised as colloidal crystals, networks of
ponents are recently attracting a lot of attention with
channels such as the Yablonovite model [10] or other

CONTACT Miha Ravnik Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia; Condensed Matter
Physics Department, Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group

applications far beyond the display technology. Their orientational profiles and eigen-problem Bloch-type
softness, responsiveness to various stimuli and possibi- solving of wave equation to calculate the photonics
lity to form complex topological defect structures cre- bands. Orientational ordering of nematic and chiral
ate novel materials such as nematic self-quenched nematic (cholesteric) within gyroid-shaped matrix is
defect glass,[25] polymer composites,[26] topological demonstrated, finding a variety of structures that are
complexes,[27,28] topological colloids,[29] hierarchical characterised by a network of nematic disclinations of
quasicrystalline tilings [30], and 1D, 2D and 3D micro- continuously varying cross sections from 1=2
and nano-colloidal crystals.[31,32] Further, the topolo- twisted to 1=2. Regimes of energetically favourable
gical constraints in nematic can give rise to memory regular, semi-regular or irregular defect network con-
effects [33] and they can condition the valence of formations are observed, strongly depending on the
trapping sites in thin nematic shells.[34] Additional value of cholesteric pitch and the LC volume fraction,
complexity can be imprinted into the nematic orienta- i.e. effectively the width of the channels in the gyroid
tional profiles by introducing chirality, i.e. by using matrix. The performance of these structures as photo-
chiral nematic materials, stabilising structures such as nic crystals is explored by calculating the photonic
chiral nematic solitons torons [35] and hopfions,[36] bands, specifically focusing on the characteristics of
bulk defect knots,[37] escaped defect structures,[38] (full and partial) band gaps. By varying the cholesteric
cubic blue phases [39] and blue phase defect net- pitch, we show that it is possible to change the optical
works.[8] response of the material, i.e. to tune band gaps for
The variability and complexity of the birefringence either left or right circular polarisation of incident
profiles that are stabilised in nematic complex fluids light in specific directions or omnidirectional. Also in
allow for new manipulation of the flow-of-light in combination with different nematic volume fractions,
systems ranging from cholesteric lasers,[40] droplet we are able to tune photonic bands over large area of
resonators,[41] filament wave guides [42] to photoin- optical frequencies. Finally, more generally, the
duced dichroism. [43] For example, blue phases and demonstrated work is an attempt towards the possible
cholesteric liquid crystals (LCs) have demonstrated the next generation of LC science and applications based
capability to work as high-efficiency, tunable, paintable on combining complex structures of LC order and the
and white lasers [4447] and as tunable photonic crys- flow-of-light.
tals.[48,49] Nematic droplets are shown to act as highly
tunable optical resonators,[41] whereas cholesteric dro-
2. Theory and modelling
plets are shown to function as 3D omnidirectional
micro-lasers.[50] Low-surface-tension tubular struc- Nematic gyroids are designed as composite material
tures and colloidal assemblies are explored as an excit- (see Figure 1), where one labyrinth of passages is
ing route towards soft matter photonics.[51] taken as a rigid dielectric whereas the second is taken
To generalise and in view of this special Liquid to be filled by the nematic LC. To account for this
Crystals issue, nematic fluids exhibit large and complex material design, we use our knowledge on
diverse optical non-linearities suitable for photonic nematic ordering within complex geometries
applications spanning the femtosecondmilliseconds [28,53,54] and combine it with approaches for model-
timescales, and a wide window of spatial scales from ling of photonic eigenmodes (i.e. photonic bands) in
tens of nanometres to tens of micrometres, possibly, general periodic birefringent materials.[48,49] In this
crucially enabling some processes such as tunable work, we focus on order-of-magnitude submicron
photonic crystals, soft metamaterials and active plas- length scales of the gyroid matrix, which are in the
monics.[52] Therefore, beyond-the-display LC range of applicability for optical frequencies and that
science has the potential to challenge the current can be produced, e.g. by using butterfly wings as a
state-of-the-art approaches in photonics and com- template [16] or by using a block copolymer scaffold
plex optics using inherent differentiators of LCs, [24] with the review given in Ref. [20] In the demon-
including material softness, tunable optical aniso- strated design, nematic gyroids as photonic crystals will
tropy, topological material design and strong respon- be governed by a combination of (1) 3D gyroid geo-
siveness to external stimuli such as electric and optic metry of the optically isotropic dielectric and (2) the
fields. And the demonstrated work is an attempt in complex 3D birefringent profile of the nematic within
this direction. the template-complementing cavities and channels.
In this paper, we explore chiral and achiral nematic In the two following subsections, we give basic
gyroids as photonic crystals using mesoscopic free descriptions of the two modelling approaches used in
energy minimisation to determine the nematic this work. First approach is based on free energy

Figure 1. (Colour online) Gyroid dielectric matrix (template) with various free volume fraction. Gyroid triply periodic surface divides
space into two path-connected regions: the first path-connected region (shown in yellow) will be taken as solid and optically
isotropic dielectric, whereas the second region (empty space) will be filled by nematic and chiral nematic liquid crystal. By changing
the volume fraction of liquid crystal filled region, effectively, the width of gyroid channel network is continuously varied. 2  2  2
unit cells are shown.

minimisation and is used to calculate nematic/choles- degree of order; A, B and C are material parameters.
teric profiles i.e. optical birefringence under the The second term penalises elastic distortions from the
strong and complex 3D confinement of the gyroid twisted cholesteric state with a single uniform helical
surface. And the second approach is used to calculate axis, characterised by the pitch p0 . L is the elastic
photonic eigenmodes in the nematic gyroids solving constant and q0 2=p0 is the inverse of the pitch
the stationary wave equation by generalised Bloch p0 . It is useful to present the pitch in units of the gyroid
formalism. matrix unit cell size a as N a=p0 , where N corre-
sponds to the number of 2 turns the director would
make in a non-confined cholesteric along the distance
2.1. Free energy minimisation for nematic gyroid equal to the gyroid unit cell size. The final term in F
structure calculations accounts for the LC interaction with the surface of the
gyroid matrix,[56] where W is the anchoring strength
A strong method for studies of nematic structures is and we assume homeotropic (perpendicular) anchoring
the Landaude Gennes (LdG) free energy approach. over all surface of the gyroid matrix. The total free
[55] It is based on the full tensorial order parameter energy F is minimised numerically by using an explicit
field Qij , which incorporates the orientation of the Euler relaxation finite difference scheme on a cubic
director n, orientation of the possible biaxial ordering mesh.[54]
relative to the director, scalar degree of order S and The surface of the gyroid matrix is a triply periodic
biaxiality P. LdG modelling is a phenomenological minimal surface and can be trigonometrically deter-
approach which uses a tensor order parameter to con- mined within the basic Fourier mode by the equation
struct a free energy functional F, which is also able to [57,58]:
fully characterise the defect regions. The interest of this
study is to explore the effects of nematic chirality (in singx cosgy singy cosgz
also the chiral confinement of the gyroids) and less singz cosgx
elastic anisotropy; therefore, we use one elastic con- h; (2)
stant approximation for the LdG free energy, which
reads where g = 2/a characterises the size of the gyroid
  unit cell, x, y, z are Cartesian coordinates and para-
A B C 2
F Qij Qji Qij Qjk Qki Qij Qji dV meter h determines the volume fraction of the
LC 2 3 4 nematic-filled gyroid region (relative to the
L @Qij @Qij @Qlj whole gyroid unit cell size). We determine the rela-
2q0 Likl Qij dV
LC 2 @xk @xk @xk tion between h and by numerically integrating the
W 0 0 volumes of the nematic filled region. Periodic
Qij  Qij Qij  Qij dS; boundary conditions are used at all boundaries of
Surf 2
the simulation box. To assure sufficient resolution
of the gyroid matrix surfaces, we take 101 mesh
where LC denotes the integration over the bulk of the points per gyroid unit cell, whereas the calculations
LC and Surf over the surface of the gyroid matrix. The are performed in a simulation box of size 2  2  2
first term accounts for the variation of the nematic gyroid unit cells. Taking simulation box with

multiple unit cells leads to formation of differently Typically, the periodicity of the refractive index is of the
periodic nematic profiles (in comparison to the per- same order of magnitude as wavelength of visible light.
iodicity of the gyroid matrix) within the same simu- Light propagation in photonic crystals is solved by using
lation box which allows for simple testing if the the classical electromagnetic theory, in analogous way as
nematic in some regime of material and system solving electron bands in solid state (semi-) conductors.
parameters is likely to form irregular metastable For our nematic and chiral nematic gyroid systems, one
solutions (defect profiles) that are not periodic can assume that the structures are stable in time, that
despite the periodic gyroid matrix. there is no charge ( 0), no current (j 0) and we
The nematic profiles within the gyroid matrix con- also assume that the LC and gyroid matrix are magne-
finement are analysed by drawing the director field, tically isotropic 1 . We also assume linear
nematic degree of order S and also the less well-
known splay-bend parameter SSB .[59] The splay-bend response of the material, giving linear relations between
parameter SSB is extracted from the order parameter the applied electric and magnetic field Er; t and
tensor field and is capable of visualising the local pro- Hr; t, and the response of the material D o E,
file of the nematic director along the nematic defect B 0 H. Further, we assume no absorption losses of
lines. Specifically, it determines the amount of the splay the material, which gives us real, symmetric and positive
and bend deformations as a sum of the second deriva- definite dielectric tensor r. And lastly, we will be
tives of the order parameter tensor Qij interested in the photonic response at primarily optical
@ 2 Qij frequencies, also taking the dielectric function not to
SSB (3) depend on the frequency of applied electric field.
@xi @xj
Considering above assumptions and separating
Drawing the negative- or positive-value isosurfaces of space and time variable by taking Er; t Ereit ,
the splay-bend parameter then shows the defect Hr; t Hreit , we can write Maxwell equations as
 E  i0 H 0;  H  i0 E 0; (4)
Material parameters of typical nematic and choles-
teric LC are used in the calculations: L 4  1011 N,  
 H 0;  0 E 0; (5)
A 0:172  106 J m3 , B 2:12  106 J m3 , C
1:73  106 J m3 and the strength of the homeotropic
where is the frequency of light, 0 is the vacuum
anchoring at the gyroid matrix W 102 J m2 . The permittivity, 0 is the vacuum permeability and is the
anchoring strength corresponds to the regime of strong
vector differential operator (which we take in the
anchoring for which disclination lines keep away from
Cartesian coordinate frame). Following classical refer-
the surfaces (typical values are in the range of
ences, we rewrite the above equation into an eigenvalue
W,104  106 J m2 ). The value of the elastic con- problem:
stant is chosen to allow for more effective modelling of
n o 2
topological defects, giving a nematic correlation length  1  H H k20 H; (6)
of ,6 nm. While the calculation is done for a specific c
choice of material parameters, the calculated nematic
where k0 =c and c is the speed of light.
textures are quite robust for a broad range of constants,
Periodic structure of the nematic gyroid structure
i.e. showing no major qualitative changes upon the
then allows for application of the BlochFloquet
change of material parameters, as long as disclination
theorem and plane wave expansion of the fields
lines remain more stable than point defects, anchoring
and the dielectric permittivity tensor. Eigenmodes
regime does not change, and the pitch-to-length scale
are computed by preconditioned conjugate-gradient
remains constant. The used parameter values were
minimisation, using a freely available software pack-
regularly shown to give good qualitative agreement
age [60] with our custom extension for materials
when comparing numerical modelling with experi-
with spatially varying optical axis. As the solution,
ments using standard LC materials, such as 5CB and
we get a decomposition of the electromagnetic fields
DMOAP covered surfaces.[28,31]
into a basis set of local eigenmodes for specific wave
vector k. Eigenvectors or modes of this eigenvalue
problem are optical waves propagating through
2.2. Photonic band calculations
photonic medium and eigenvalues are frequencies
Photonic crystals are characterised by periodic spatial of the corresponding mode. Group of eigenvalues
variation of refractive index i.e. having a unit cell size. calculated along the edge of the irreducible

Brillouin zone form the diagram of optical bands, nematic (meta)stable states. In order to resolve the
which is typically the basic approach for describing structure in more detail, an exemplary nematic gyroid
optical properties of photonic crystals. An important structure is replotted in Figure 2, using the splay-bend
element in photonic band diagrams is (local or total) parameter. Additionally, we also show the director field
band gaps, i.e. frequencies of light which can not in selected cross sections (Figure 2(c)). The director and
propagate in the medium. The optical bands are splay-bend profiles show that the defect lines in the
typically calculated for primitive unit cells of the gyroid structure are of hybrid nature, changing their
periodic material, following a distinct path through local structure from 1=2 winding number, via twisted,
the Brillouin zone. Specifically, gyroids have a body to 1=2 winding number. The local structure of the
centred cubic unit cell.[61] disclination is observed to be strongly coupled to the
Photonic crystals from nematic gyroids can differ in local curvature of the nearest gyroid matrix surface,
the profile of the dielectric permittivity tensor r, where positive curvature (effectively a local dip in the
which is directly related to the nematic order para- surface) favours the +1/2 local structure of the disclina-
meter tensor Qij as: tion, whereas negative curvature (effectively, a local
2o e 2 ridge) favours the 1=2 local structure of the
ij r ij e  o Qij r; (7) disclination.
3 3
Nematic gyroids of different nematic volume frac-
where o and e represent ordinary and extraordinary tion are shown in Figure 2(d). The volume fraction
dielectric constants; unless stated otherwise, we effectively going from thin nematic-filled channel-like
assume values of dielectric constants no o 1:4 regions at small to thick nematic-filled regions at
and ne o 1:8 for all our further discussion, large strongly affects the morphology of the dis-
assuming a quite high birefringence of ne  no 0:4 clination network and more broadly, the general orien-
to make the features of photonic bands more pro- tational ordering of the nematic. At small volume
nounced. However, actually, such birefringence is fractions , the role of periodic confining surfaces is
experimentally achievable in multiple LC com- more pronounced and the nematic profiles are regular,
pounds.[62,63] Note that, the first part is just an typically forming a distinct structure, which follows the
average of dielectric constants and second anisotro- periodicity of the gyroid matrix (see 0:08 in
pic part characterises rotation of optical axis and Figure 2(d)). However, upon increasing the nematic
depends on the birefringence of the LC. Indeed, the volume fraction, the defect lines get effectively more
optically isotropic gyroid, i.e. gyroid matrix infiltrated room, more precisely their different motifs become
with air or some other dielectric, can be fully energetically less costly, and irregular defect networks
described by using only scalar spatially varying dielec- emerge. Figure 2(d) shows only selected examples of
tric constant, and only after filling of the gyroid one of the structures obtained in calculations at larger
matrix with LCs, the birefringence becomes an impor- volume fractions.
tant phenomenon for tuning the optical and photonic
3.2. Cholesteric LC gyroids
Cholesteric LC gyroids are materials, which are condi-
3. Results tioned in addition to the complex gyroid geometry
by an effective competition between two chiralities: the
3.1. Nematic LC gyroids
chirality of the gyroid matrix and the chirality of the
Nematic LC gyroids are designed as composite materi- cholesteric LC. Similarly, to the nematic gyroids, cho-
als, where the first gyroid region is taken as a solid lesteric gyroids also form various structures of the
matrix of isotropic dielectric, whereas the second is filled orientational order, which are characterised by the net-
by (first, achiral) nematic LC. Nematic gyroid with works of nematic disclination of hybrid type (1=2,
volume fraction of LC region 0:51 is shown in 1=2 and twisted), as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 2(ac). The combination of complex gyroid con- Two typical structures of nematic ordering in cho-
finement and homeotropic anchoring at the surfaces lesteric gyroids are shown in Figure 3(a,b). They are
results in the emergence of various nematic profiles taken at same nematic volume fraction but different
within the gyroid cavities, characterised by complex net- cholesteric pitch N a=p0 , where a is simulation
works of topological defect lines. Multiple network con- box size and p0 is the pitch). Notably, this difference
formations are obtained under the confinement of the in the pitch leads to either a regular ordered structure
same gyroid matrix, revealing the existence of multiple with fully periodic network of disclinations or a totally

Figure 2. (Colour online) Nematic liquid crystal gyroids. (a) Various metastable nematic profiles within the gyroid matrix of volume
fraction 0:51(in yellow) as characterised by different morphologies of the nematic disclinations (in red). (b) Selected nematic
gyroid structure visualised by the isosurface of splay-bend parameter (SSB 0:053 in yellow and SSB 0:053 in blue). Observe
the changes in the local profile of the disclinations. (c) Director field in two indicated cross section with the colours of the director
short lines indicating the orientation (red, green, blue corresponding to main three coordinate axes). (d) Nematic gyroid structures
upon increasing the nematic volume fraction . Top and bottom row show same structures at given volume fraction, but from
different view and projection. Irregular defect networks are observed generically in nematic gyroids, except for small volume
fractions (see structure at 0:08). Disclinations are drawn in red as isosurfaces of nematic degree of order S 0:44 in (a,c,d)
and S 0:31 in (b).

irregular network of disclinations. We vary the two performing multiple quench random initial condition
main parameters of the cholesteric gyroid system, calculations), (2)semi-ordered where the network is
namely the LC volume fraction and the number N still rather regular but individual rewirings of defects
of 2 turns per one gyroid unit cell of size a, construct- occur and (3) disordered where defect network is
ing the phase diagram shown in Figure 3(c) to char- irregular and does not show any order. The examples
acterise the regimes of the defect structures. We split of structures from the phase diagram are shown in
the phase diagram into three regimes of structures: (1) Figure 3(f,g), with varying cholesteric volume fraction
ordered where we see only one structure of nematic along the red arrow (N 1 and different ) and
ordering characterised by ordered disclination defect with varying cholesteric pitch along the blue arrow
network (despite repeating multiple calculations and ( 0:32 and different N). Interestingly, we see that

Figure 3. (Colour online) Cholesteric liquid crystal gyroids. (a,b) Examples of ordered and disordered cholesteric gyroid structure at same
cholesteric volume fraction 0:6 and cholesteric pitch of different handedness, as given by the pitch number N. Selected cross sections
show the corresponding director fields and defects of different local cross section. Colour scale of the director indicates the direction of the
director (red, green and blue represent the orientation along x, y and z). (c) Phase diagram of different cholesteric gyroid defect regimes as
function of cholesteric volume fraction and pitch number N. Pitch N 0 corresponds to achiral nematic shown in Figure 2. (d) Different
energetically metastable rewirings of disclination line segments in the vertexes of the basic unit-elements of the cholesteric gyroid structure.
Encircled parts show that the disclinations can either run straight or twist. (e) Vertexes of the basic unit-elements of the cholesteric gyroid for a
cholesteric with increasing chirality. Higher chirality imposes stronger helical twisting of disclination pairs along the tubes, instead of a single
optional turn seen in (d). (f) Cholesteric gyroid structures upon varying the cholesteric volume fraction at fixed N 1. (g) Cholesteric gyroid
structures upon varying the cholesteric pitch given by pitch number N and fixed cholesteric volume fraction 0:32. Disclinations are
drawn in red as isosurfaces of nematic degree of order S 0:44.

the phase diagram shows a notable region of ordered nematic gyroid structure can be decomposed into junc-
structures, also at large cholesteric volume fractions, at tions of three tubular channels, with all surfaces impos-
negative values of pitch (negative values correspond to ing homeotropic surface anchoring, where each of the
left-handed cholesteric helical ordering), which impor- channels is penetrated by two disclination lines to
tantly relates to the handedness of the gyroid matrix compensate for the effectively radial (+1) surface con-
(according to nomenclature from Ref. [16], our gyroid dition. And the disclinations can pass trough the junc-
matrix is right-handed). The phase diagram region of tion regions differently, possibly leading to different
ordered structures is then surrounded by semi-ordered disclination network morphologies. And it is via ener-
regime of structures which eventually transform into getic cost of the specific rewiring motif, affected by
disordered. We observe also a region in the phase both the chirality and the effective thickness of the
diagram of positive pitch where semi-ordered struc- channels, that defect networks of different level or
tures emerge. To generalise the structure of the phase order emerge.
diagram, at small chiral nematic volume fraction, the
strong anchoring at the surfaces of the gyroid matrix
3.3. Photonic crystals from LC gyroids
strongly conditions the nematic structure, making it
more ordered, whereas at larger volume fractions only Cholesteric and nematic gyroids are different for their
appropriate chirality of the cholesteric can couple to inherent birefringence, and it is the role of birefrin-
the chiral structure of the gyroid matrix, leading to gence in nematic/cholesteric gyroids which we would
ordered structures. like to emphasise in comparison to the photonic
The emergence of regular and irregular defect net- response of isotropic gyroids, i.e. gyroids made from
works can be explained by observing the motifs (rewir- optically isotropic materials. We first make analysis of
ings) of disclination line segments in the vertexes of the photonic properties of isotropic gyroids, similar to
basic unit-elements of the cholesteric gyroid structure, what has already been studied in Ref. [20] Figure 4(a)
as shown in Figure 3(d and e). Effectively, the discussed shows photonic band diagram which we calculated for

Figure 4. (Colour online) Isotropic gyroid photonic crystal from silicon gyroid matrix g 11:9 in air b 1. (a) Photonic bands
calculated on the edge of BCC irreducible Brillouin zone for two different volume fractions . (b) Size of the total band gap in
isotropic gyroid as dependent on volume fraction of air region and the dielectric contrast g b . (c,d) Electromagnetic field energy
density (blue) within the 2  2  2 gyroid unit cells (yellow) for bands below (c) and above (d) the total photonic band gap at point
H in the Brillouin zone. The electromagnetic energy is drawn as isosurface of w ED BH 5:2. (e) Size of local band gap for
left circularly polarised light in direction 100 (point H) as function of air volume fraction and dielectric contrast g b .

two different volume fractions of silicon gyroid matrix is analysed in Figure 4(e), showing that this gap is a
g 11:9 placed in air background b 1. Two typical persistent property of gyroid structure as it opens even

photonic crystal characteristics of the gyroid structure for small dielectric contrast g b <2 and it is present
can be seen. First is the circular dichroism in the 100 through large area of volume fractions.
(point H) direction, where there are different band Nematic gyroids are different to isotropic gyroids as
gaps for differently circularly polarised light. Gap they exhibit distinct spatially dependent and variable
between first and fourth band describes left circular optical anisotropy, which we show can lead to red or
polarisation gap and it is notably larger than the gap blue shift of the band gap frequency and opens or
between second and third band, which describes right closes photonic gaps either for all or only specific
circular polarisation.[61] And the second gyroid photo- polarisations in the range of = ,1%. To calculate
nic crystal characteristic is the emergence of the total the nematic gyroid photonic crystal band diagrams, we
band gap as shown in grey in Figure 4(a) for the use the nematic structure calculated in Sections 3.1 and
volume fraction 0:69. Size of the total band gap 3.2 (i.e. the order parameter tensor Qij profiles) and

depends both on the dielectric contrast g b between take it as spatially dependent dielectric permittivity
the two gyroid regions as well as on the relative volume profile using direct correspondence in Equation 7.
fraction of the two regions. In Figure 4(b), we show Photonic band diagram calculated for cholesteric gyroid
this dependency more explicitly, calculating the relative photonic crystals (with pitch number N 1; exactly
size of the gap = as a function of volume fraction corresponding to structures shown in Figure 3(f)) is
and dielectric contrast. Electromagnetic field energy shown in Figure 5(a). They are calculated along the wave-
density w ED BH for states under and above vector path of the irreducible Brillouin zone of simple cubic
the photonic gap of left circularly polarised light in unit cell corresponding to the full simulation box, in order
point H and at 0:69 is shown in Figure 4(c,d), to account (in the disordered disclination network profiles)
respectively. The energy density w is normalised for the variety of the cholesteric profiles of birefringence. As
a consequence, folded bands can emerge in the photonic
according to conditions EDd3 r 1 and BHd3 r 1
band diagram. This is why we only show the first four
where integration is performed over the whole volume. bands and bands where total band gap appears in
Local band gap in point H for left circular polarisation Figure 5. Figure 5 shows that smaller cholesteric volume

Figure 5. (Colour online) Nematic and cholesteric gyroid photonic crystal response assuming silicon gyroid matrix g 11:9. (a)
Photonic bands calculated at the edge of simple cubic irreducible Brillouin zone of the simulation box for different nematic volume
fractions and liquid crystal with no 1:4 and ne 1:8. Inset below shows local band gap at point X. Above panel is added to the
band diagram to show two photonic bands for each volume fraction between which total band gap appears. Purple stripe shows
total band gap for volume fraction 0:79. (b) Size of local photonic band at point X from (a) for different nematic birefringence
n and ordinary refractive index of nematic no . (c) Photonic bands for different pitch of the cholesteric liquid crystal. Bottom panel
is a zoom on local band gap at point X. The inset in the top panel shows opening and closing of a local band gap as caused by
changing the cholesteric pitch.

fraction brings lower frequency of photonic bands which is of nematic disclinations of hybrid nature which can
in accordance with variational principle.[11] Size of the change local structure from 1=2 and 1=2 winding
band gap also decreases as volume fraction decreases, so number to twisted. Achiral nematic gyroid structures
we get the largest local photonic band at point X for largest typically exhibit irregular defect network morphologies,
volume fraction 0:93. except for small nematic volume fractions, caused by
The effect of birefringence on the local band gap at multiple possible energetically metastable defect line
direction 100 (X point) is demonstrated for the struc- segment rewirings. However, for chiral nematic gyroids
ture with volume fraction 0:79 and pitch N 1 we find a sizeable phase space region where regular and
in Figure 5(b). Specifically, we vary both the nematic ordered defect profiles (networks) are expected to
birefringence n ne  no (no is ordinary and ne is emerge, as stabilised by the energetically favourable
extraordinary refractive index) as well as the ordinary coupling between the handedness of the gyroid matrix
refractive index no , effectively setting the dielectric and the handedness of the cholesteric chiral ordering.
contrast between the nematic and the gyroid matrix. Photonic bands of selected nematic and chiral nematic
We show that larger birefringence increases the local structures are calculated. Specifically, the nematic bire-
photonic band gap; however, increasing n at fixed no fringence is showed to allow for controllable shift of
also start to lower the contrast between gyroid and LC the band gap frequencies, shifts in the band structure as
phase, thus reducing the gap. To generalise, larger whole, and opening and closing of photonic band gaps.
local band gaps can be achieved by using LC material Finally, this work is aimed as a contribution to the
with low average refractive index, but with large development of LC composites as soft photonic mate-
birefringence. rials that could be used to control the flow-of-light at
Figure 5(c) shows the effect of changing the choles- the wave-length and sub-wave-length scales.
teric pitch, using structures shown in Figure 3(g) nota-
bly also including (achiral) nematic. We see that Disclosure statement
different pitch not only shifts frequency of the gap
but also changes size of the gap, for example largest No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.
gap is for nematic LC with N 0 and smallest for
N 1. In inset, there is a zoom on point X, for clarity Funding
all bands are shown together. Pitch also affects the total
band gap, specifically it can be seen that for nematic, Authors acknowledge funding from Slovenian research
agency grants J1-7300 and P1-0099, and USAF EOARD
we get smallest total gap and it increases for cholesteric grant SOFTMETA:[Grant Number FA9550-15-1-0418].
LC, interestingly moving only the upper band while
lower stays the same.
To generalise, chiral and achiral nematic gyroids are References
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