Arising in many branches of physics, Hopf solitons are three-dimensional particle-like field distortions with nontrivial topology described by the Hopf map. Despite their recent discovery in colloids and liquid crystals, the requirement of applied fields or confinement for stability impedes their utility in technological applications. Here we demonstrate stable Hopf solitons in a liquid crystal material without these requirements as a result of enhanced stability by tuning anisotropy of parameters that describe energetic costs of different gradient components in the molecular alignment field. Nevertheless, electric fields allow for inter-transformation of Hopf solitons between different geometric embodiments, as well as for their three-dimensional hopping-like dynamics in response to electric pulses. Numerical modelling reproduces both the equilibrium structure and topology-preserving out-of-equilibrium evolution of the soliton during switching and motions. Our findings may enable myriads of solitonic condensed matter phases and active matter systems, as well as their technological applications.
- Award ID(s):
- Publication Date:
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
- Page Range or eLocation-ID:
- 921 to 926
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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