We present the first observations of dc electric-field-induced rotational motion of finite particles in liquid crystals. We show that the electrorotation is essentially identical to the well-known Quincke rotation, which in liquid crystals triggers an additional translational motion at higher fields. In the smectic phase the translational motion is confined to the two-dimensional geometry of smectic layers, in contrast to the isotropic and nematic phases, where the particles can move in all three dimensions. We demonstrate that by a proper analysis of the electrorotation, one can determine the in-plane viscosity of smectic liquid crystals. This method needs only a small amount of material, does not require uniform alignment over large areas, and enables probing rheological properties locally.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/oleg_lavrentovich/46/