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Issue 44, 2015
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A novel chiral phase of achiral hard triangles and an entropy-driven demixing of enantiomers

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Abstract

We investigate the phase behavior of a system of hard equilateral and right-angled triangles in two dimensions using Monte Carlo simulations. Hard equilateral triangles undergo a continuous isotropic–triatic liquid crystal phase transition at packing fraction ϕ = 0.7. Similarly, hard right-angled isosceles triangles exhibit a first-order phase transition from an isotropic fluid phase to a rhombic liquid crystal phase with a coexistence region ϕ ∈ [0.733, 0.782]. Both these liquid crystals undergo a continuous phase transition to their respective close-packed crystal structures at high pressures. Although the particles and their close-packed crystals are both achiral, the solid phases of equilateral and right-angled triangles exhibit spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking at sufficiently high packing fractions. The colloidal triangles rotate either in the clockwise or anti-clockwise direction with respect to one of the lattice vectors for packing fractions higher than ϕχ. As a consequence, these triangles spontaneously form a regular lattice of left- or right-handed chiral holes which are surrounded by six triangles in the case of equilateral triangles and four or eight triangles for right-angled triangles. Moreover, our simulations show a spontaneous entropy-driven demixing transition of the right- and left-handed “enantiomers”.

Graphical abstract: A novel chiral phase of achiral hard triangles and an entropy-driven demixing of enantiomers

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Publication details

The article was received on 16 Jul 2015, accepted on 09 Sep 2015 and first published on 09 Sep 2015


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C5SM01762A
Citation: Soft Matter, 2015,11, 8684-8691
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    A novel chiral phase of achiral hard triangles and an entropy-driven demixing of enantiomers

    A. P. Gantapara, W. Qi and M. Dijkstra, Soft Matter, 2015, 11, 8684
    DOI: 10.1039/C5SM01762A

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