Tailoring liquid crystal honeycombs by head-group choice in bird-like bent-core mesogens†
We introduce a new class of mesogens that are bird-like in shape and form honeycomb-type supramolecular liquid crystals. They have a bent pi-conjugated aromatic core as wings, a linear or branched chain as the tail and a selection of functional headgroups. Honeycombs of non-centrosymmetric trigonal type (p3m1) are obtained, along with two different complex honeycomb superlattices (p31m and p2gg) and a randomized hexagonal mesophase (p6mm). The key determinant of the self-assembled structure is the nature of interaction of the headgroup with the glycerols at the ends of the wings. The structure depends on whether the sub-columns lying along the edges of the prismatic cells contain pure or mixed headgroups and wing-end hydrogen-bonding groups. Its assembly is further controlled by reducing the tail-chain volume, inducing out-of-plane buckling of the honeycomb. These two modes of symmetry breaking lead to structural polarity both in- and out-of-plane, opening the way to applications in devices relying on properties such as ferroelectricity and second harmonic generation.