The photoresponsive electro-optical composites based on cholesteric liquid crystal (CLC) with optically controlled chirality and a minute amount of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are studied. In cells with homeotropic anchoring, these composites exhibit a transition from fingerprint texture to homeotropic nematic texture in the course of photoinduced unwinding of the cholesteric helix. Compared with the CLC counterpart, this transition is much delayed, because of the stabilization of cholesteric filamentary domains by CNTs. The CLC-CNT composites demonstrate dual-mode operation with optical switching between reversible and memory mode. It is found that the memory response is associated with the elastic network of filamentary cholesteric domains that stabilizes the planar CLC texture reached in an electric field. In turn, the reversible mode corresponds to the unwound cholesteric state. Potential applications of this effect are discussed.
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