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 (STED) 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 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.
© 2018 Optical Society of AmericaFull Article | PDF Article
CorrectionsJung-Shen B. Tai and Ivan I. Smalyukh, "Super-resolution stimulated emission depletion microscopy of director structures in liquid crystals: publisher’s note," Opt. Lett. 43, 5475-5475 (2018)
15 October 2018: Typographical corrections were made to the body text.
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