Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

Ivan Smalyukh

Second Advisor

John Cumalat

Third Advisor

Sally Edith Green


Topological solitons are field configurations that are important to theorists in particle physics and cosmology, but recently have been studied in condensed matter systems with reconfigurable fields, like chiral magnets and liquid crystals. In these communities, there is a strong interest in studying and understanding the dynamic behavior of these solitons, many examples of which I will present in this thesis. This includes exploring the dynamic motion and patterning behavior of large number-densities of two-dimensional topological structures called skyrmions with external stimulation by light. With these techniques we can realize for the first time a colloidal spin ice system in a chiral nematic liquid crystal. These experiments simulate the theoretical state of spin ice by using patterned “light-traps” in photo-sensitive azobenzene-based chiral nematic.