Chemically induced splay nematic phase with micron scale periodicity†
Nematic liquid crystals lack positional order of their constituent molecules, which share an average orientational order only. Modulated nematic liquid crystal phases also lack positional order, but possess a periodic variation in this direction of average orientation. In the recently discovered splay nematic (NS) phase the average orientational order is augmented with a periodic splay deformation of orientation perpendicular to the director. In this communication we report the first example of a splay nematic phase which is chemically induced by mixing two materials, neither of which exhibit the NS phase. The splay-nematic phase is identified based on its optical textures, X-ray scattering patterns, and small enthalpy of the associated phase transition. We measure the splay periodicity optically, finding it to be ∼9 μm. This unexpected generation of the splay-nematic phase through binary mixtures offers a new route to materials which exhibit this phase which complements ongoing studies into structure–property relationships and could accelerate the development of technologies utilising this remarkable polar nematic variant.