Achiral building blocks forming achiral structures is a common occurrence in nature, while chirality emerging spontaneously from an achiral system is usually associated with important scientific phenomena. We report on the spontaneous chiral symmetry-breaking phenomena upon the topographic confinement of achiral lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals in periodically arranged micrometer scale air pillars. The anisotropic fluid arranges into chiral domains that depend on the arrangement and spacing of the pillars. We characterize the resulting domains by polarized optical microscopy, support their reconstruction by numerical calculations, and extend the findings with experiments, which include chiral dopants. Well-controlled and addressed chiral structures will be useful in potential applications like programmable scaffolds for living liquid crystals and as sensors for detecting chirality at the molecular level.
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