The macroscopic properties of novel liquid crystal (LC) systems—LCs with unconventional molecular structure as well as conventional LCs in unconventional geometries—directly descend from their mesoscopic structural organization. While X-ray diffraction (XRD) is an obvious choice to investigate their nanoscale structure, conventional diffractometry is often hampered by experimental difficulties: the low scattering power and short-range positional order of the materials, resulting in weak and diffuse diffraction features; the need to perform measurements in challenging conditions, e.g., under magnetic and/or electric fields, on thin films, or at high temperatures; and the necessity to probe micron-sized volumes to tell the local structural properties from their macroscopic average. Synchrotron XRD allows these problems to be circumvented thanks to the superior diffraction capabilities (brilliance, q-range, energy and space resolution) and advanced sample environment available at synchrotron beamlines. Here, we highlight the potentiality of synchrotron XRD in the field of LCs by reviewing a selection of experiments on three unconventional LC systems: the potentially biaxial and polar nematic phase of bent-core mesogens; the very high-temperature nematic phase of all-aromatic LCs; and polymer-dispersed liquid crystals. In all these cases, synchrotron XRD unveils subtle nanostructural features that are reflected into macroscopic properties of great interest from both fundamental and technological points of view.

Nanostructure of Unconventional Liquid Crystals Investigated by Synchrotron Radiation

Vita, Francesco;Adamo, Fabrizio Corrado;Pisani, Michela;Francescangeli, Oriano
2020

Abstract

The macroscopic properties of novel liquid crystal (LC) systems—LCs with unconventional molecular structure as well as conventional LCs in unconventional geometries—directly descend from their mesoscopic structural organization. While X-ray diffraction (XRD) is an obvious choice to investigate their nanoscale structure, conventional diffractometry is often hampered by experimental difficulties: the low scattering power and short-range positional order of the materials, resulting in weak and diffuse diffraction features; the need to perform measurements in challenging conditions, e.g., under magnetic and/or electric fields, on thin films, or at high temperatures; and the necessity to probe micron-sized volumes to tell the local structural properties from their macroscopic average. Synchrotron XRD allows these problems to be circumvented thanks to the superior diffraction capabilities (brilliance, q-range, energy and space resolution) and advanced sample environment available at synchrotron beamlines. Here, we highlight the potentiality of synchrotron XRD in the field of LCs by reviewing a selection of experiments on three unconventional LC systems: the potentially biaxial and polar nematic phase of bent-core mesogens; the very high-temperature nematic phase of all-aromatic LCs; and polymer-dispersed liquid crystals. In all these cases, synchrotron XRD unveils subtle nanostructural features that are reflected into macroscopic properties of great interest from both fundamental and technological points of view.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11566/284390
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