Shape-Dependent Oriented Trapping and Scaffolding of Plasmonic Nanoparticles by Topological Defects for Self-Assembly of Colloidal Dimers in Liquid Crystals

We demonstrate scaffolding of plasmonic nanoparticles by topological defects induced by colloidal microspheres to match their surface boundary conditions with a uniform far-field alignment in a liquid crystal host. Displacing energetically costly liquid crystal regions of reduced order, anisotropic nanoparticles with concave or convex shapes not only stably localize in defects but also self-orient with respect to the microsphere surface. Using laser tweezers, we manipulate the ensuing nanoparticle-microsphere colloidal dimers, probing the strength of elastic binding and demonstrating self-assembly of hierarchical colloidal superstructures such as chains and arrays.