Though you may not think of it when you tie your shoes, knots are very useful and important structures in math and science. Now we are finding knots in many places in reality, and these structures are bring out interesting properties. Researchers at the University of Warwick recently studied how to make liquid crystals form knots to potentially bring out new properties in them.
Liquid crystals are a decidedly useful technology in today's world with how they dominate display technology. A close look at the crystals reveals they are long, thin molecules that can be made to align, and it is by changing this alignment that pixels in a monitor are controlled. The researchers were interested in non-linear shapes though, so using a theoretical model, they looked at how the crystals behave with molecules of particular shapes, such as a Mobius strips. The researchers found that the crystals would align along these shapes to form knots.
Currently the work is just theoretical, but someday we may see it applied in designs for metamaterials and photonic devices.
Source: University of Warwick