Effect of shape and bending modulus on the properties of nematic lyotropic liquid crystals
Synovial liquid is a natural lubricant of articular joints, such as shoulders, knees and hips. Thus, the development of biocompatible lubricants that can be employed in medical prosthesis for artificial implants, and eventually in certain therapies against osteo-arthritis or rheumatoid-arthritis diseases, is of an undoubted importance. Lyotropic liquid crystals have been used in the synthesis of silica and metals containing regularly oriented nanoporous, to obtain oriented carbon nanotube materials, in several pharmaceutical applications, as membrane mimetics and in lubrication applications. In this context, a new nematic lyotropic liquid crystal has been developed based on tetradecyltrimethyl ammonium chloride (TTAC), decanol (DeOH), a natural mixture of lipids (PL) extracted from soybean and sodium chloride (NaCl), all dissolved in water. A 30% w/w increase in TTAC content respect a certain composition of reference produces a more than 24-fold increase in the macroscopic viscosity of the solution. To understand the molecular principles that explain this behavior, several experimental and theoretical studies have been carried out. In this regard, 2H-NMR quadrupole splittings of fully deuterated sodium dodecyl sulphate (SDS-d25) introduced as molecular probe, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), freeze fracture transmission electron microscopy (FF-TEM), cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (Cryo-TEM) and polarized light microscopy (PLM) were obtained. In addition, hydrodynamic studies determined how the enhancement in viscosity requires a change in the shape of the aggregate, from circular to elliptic. Finally, molecular dynamics simulations allowed to estimate how variations in the bending modulus, kb, can explain the observed tendency of the quadrupole splittings, on the basis of a modification in the flexibility of the aggregate.