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Super-resolution stimulated emission depletion microscopy of director structures in liquid crystals

Super-resolution stimulated emission depletion microscopy of director structures in liquid crystals

Optics Letters 43(20): 5158-5161

Extending the optical imaging of director structures in liquid crystals (LCs) beyond the diffraction limit is poised to provide insights into previously elusive LC physics at the nanoscale. Here, we develop and characterize super-resolution stimulated emission depletion microscopy with molecular orientation sensitivity and apply it to reveal spatially localized director structures in chiral nematic and smectic LCs. As examples, we demonstrate director imaging and reconstruction of nanoscale LC configurations, including solitonic Bloch walls and two-dimensional skyrmions, both observed in sub-micrometer-thick strongly confined LC films, and focal conic domains in smectic LCs. The ≲100  nm resolution of our orientation-resolved STED imaging is three times better than that of fluorescence confocal polarizing microscopy and polarized nonlinear imaging techniques, but can be potentially improved even further.

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Accession: 065928355

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PMID: 30320844

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