Enhancing thermal stability and mechanical properties of lyotropic liquid crystals through incorporation of a polymerizable surfactant
We present a facile method to prepare thermally stable and mechanically robust crosslinked lyotropic liquid crystals (LLCs) through incorporation of a polymerizable amphiphile into a binary LLC system comprising commercially available surfactant Brij 97 and water. Thermal stability and mechanical properties of the polymerized LLCs were significantly enhanced after polymerization of the incorporated polymerizable surfactant. The effect of incorporating a polymerizable amphiphile on the phase behavior of the LLC system was studied in detail. In situ photo-rheology was used to monitor the change in the mechanical properties of the LLCs, namely the storage modulus, loss modulus, and viscosity, upon polymerization. The retention of the LLC nanostructures was evaluated by small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The ability to control the thermal stability and mechanical strength of LLCs simply by adding a polymerizable amphiphile, without tedious organic synthesis or harsh polymerization conditions, could prove highly advantageous in the preparation of robust nanomaterials with well-defined periodic structures.