Open Access Nano Express

Enhanced magnetic-field-induced optical properties of nanostructured magnetic fluids by doping nematic liquid crystals

Xiang Wang, Shengli Pu*, Hongzhu Ji and Guojun Yu

Author Affiliations

College of Science, University of Shanghai for Science and Technology, Shanghai, 200093, China

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2012, 7:249  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-7-249

Published: 15 May 2012

Abstract

Ferronematic materials composed of 4-cyano-4′-pentylbiphenyl nematic liquid crystal and oil-based Fe3O4 magnetic fluid were prepared using ultrasonic agitation. The birefringence (Δn) and figure of merit of optical properties (Q = Δn/α, where α is the extinction coefficient) of pure magnetic fluids and the as-prepared ferronematic materials were examined and compared. The figure of merit of optical properties weighs the birefringence and extinction of the materials and is more appropriate to evaluate their optical properties. Similar magnetic-field- and magnetic-particle-concentration-dependent properties of birefringence and figure of merit of optical properties were obtained for the pure magnetic fluids and the ferronematic materials. For the ferronematic materials, the values of Q increase with the volume fractions of nematic liquid crystal under certain fixed field strength and are larger than those of their corresponding pure magnetic fluids at high field region. In addition, the enhancement of Q value increases monotonously with the magnetic field and becomes remarkable when the applied magnetic field is beyond 50 mT. The maximum relative enhanced value of QR exceeds 6.8% in our experiments. The results of this work may conduce to extend the pragmatic applications of nanostructured magnetic fluids in optical field.

Keywords:
Magnetic fluids; Nematic liquid crystals; Ferronematic materials; Birefringence; Figure of merit of optical properties