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Issue 10, 2020
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Controlling the formation of heliconical smectic phases by molecular design of achiral bent-core molecules

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Abstract

Fluids with spontaneous helical structures formed by achiral low molecular mass molecules is a newly emerging field with great application potential. Here, we explore the chemical mechanisms of the helix formation by systematically modifying the structure of a bent 4-cyanoresorcinol unit functionalized with two different phenyl benzoate based aromatic rods and terminated with two alkyl chains of variable length. The majority of these achiral compounds self-assemble, forming a short-pitch heliconical liquid crystalline phase in broad temperature ranges. In some cases, it occurs without any competing low-temperature phase. We demonstrate that the mirror symmetry broken mesophase occurs at the paraelectric–(anti)ferroelectric transition if the tilt angle of the molecules in the smectic layers is around 18–20° and if this transition coincides with a change of the tilt correlation between the layers. In the close vicinity of this transition, a field-induced heliconical phase develops as well as a new heliconical phase with polarization-randomized structure. These investigations provide a blueprint for the future design of achiral molecules capable of spontaneous mirror symmetry breaking by the formation of heliconical liquid crystalline phases.

Graphical abstract: Controlling the formation of heliconical smectic phases by molecular design of achiral bent-core molecules

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Article information


Submitted
25 Nov 2019
Accepted
12 Jan 2020
First published
13 Jan 2020

J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020,8, 3316-3336
Article type
Paper

Controlling the formation of heliconical smectic phases by molecular design of achiral bent-core molecules

M. Poppe, M. Alaasar, A. Lehmann, S. Poppe, M. Tamba, M. Kurachkina, A. Eremin, M. Nagaraj, J. K. Vij, X. Cai, F. Liu and C. Tschierske, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2020, 8, 3316
DOI: 10.1039/C9TC06456G

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