Liquid Crystals

Calamitic liquid crystals pitch d ... • Most liquid crystals are diamagnetic and their magnetic anisotropy arises ... 1/27/2015 12:53:32 PM...

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Liquid Crystals 2.2.2015 F.Kremer

Outline 1. What are Liquid Crystals (LC); Experiment: LC are birefringent 2. Classification of liquid crystals 3. Orientation of LC 4. Structural and optical properties of LC; Experiment: How does a LC display work? 5. Textures of LC

1. What are Liquid Crystals (LC)

A typical LC molecule:

aliphatic tail rigid core, „mesogen“

the core alone has a strong tendency to crystallize, but this is counterbalanced by the tendency of the aliphatic tails to form a glass.

Thermotropic LC The botanist Reinitzer observed 2 melting points in cholesteryl benzoate ( 1888) solid

hazy liquid 

clear liquid 

Temperature Liquid crystals are an intermediate state between ordered three-dimensional crystalline arrays and isotropic disorder.

(Monatshefte für Chemie 9:421–41)

Summary concerning the question, what are LC? 1. LC molecules are allways characterized by a rigid core (mesogen) and a typically aliphatic tail. 2. The mesogen may have very different shapes. 3. The structure of the LC molecule causes mesophases between the crystalline and the liquid state.

Experiment: LC are birefringent

Experiment: LC are birefringent

2. Classification of liquid crystals

• Thermotropic LCs - obtained by heating up the crystalline solid or cooling the isotropic liquid • Lyotropic LCs - obtained by dissolving the LC in an appropriate solvent under given concentration and temperature conditions

Lyotropic liquid crystal

isolated molecules spherical micelles,

rod-like micelles packed in a hexagonal arrangement,

a lamellar phase.

Shape of LC molecules discotic (disc-like) calamitic (rod-like molecules)

banana-shaped liquid crystal

Calamitic liquid crystals Cholesteric phase (chiral nematic)



G n

- director



Mesophase polymorphism

Phase type




SmC temperature

Molecular orientation





Tilt to apex of hexagon


Tilt to side of hexagon


Tilt to apex of hexagon


Tilt to side of hexagon

Molecular packing


Orientational Positional ordering ordering

Short range

random hexagonal

long range Short range

pseudo hexagonal



long range orthorombic


Tilted to side a



Tilted to side b


Solid crystal

Structures of discotic LC phases

Blue phases

special types of liquid crystal phases that appear in the temperature range between a chiral nematic phase and an isotropic liquid phase

have a regular three-dimensional cubic structure of defects with lattice periods of several hundred nanometers

exhibit selective Bragg reflections in the wavelength range of light Molecules twisting out from the centre to form helical structure Double twist cylinder Director


Typical DSC curve of LCs

DSC curve of enantiotropic and monotropic liquid crystalline phases

Pressure-temperature phase diagram

H. Uehara et al. J. Phys. Soc. Jpn.,. 71, 2002

• Liquid crystalline phase can be induced by pressure.

The odd-even effect •The LC properties (e.g., the phase transition temperature, the order parameter, the transition entropy show a pronounced alternation as the end-chain increases


The addition of an even-numbered carbon atome is along the major molecular axis. Nematic

When the chains become longer their flexibility increases and the odd-even effect becomes less pronounced.

Summary concerning the classification of LC

1. One separates between thermotropic and lyotropic LC 2. LC phases show a pronounced polymorphism 3. Besides temperature and concentration also pressure determines the phase sequence 4. The phase sequence depends in a subtle manner on the molecular structure, e.g. the even-odd effect

3. Orientation of LC 1. LC can be oriented by magnetic fields if the mesogen has a strong magnetic moment. 2. LC can be easily oriented by an external electric field if the mesogen has an electric dipolemoment 3. LC can be easily oriented due to surface interactions

Why can we order LC molecules by the external magnetic field ? • Most liquid crystals are diamagnetic and their magnetic anisotropy arises from the electronic structure of the mesogens (delocalisation of electronic charge enhances the diamagnetic susceptibility).

• Since the component of the diamagnetic susceptibility perpendicular to a benzene ring is greater than the in plane component, calamitic mesogens have a positive diamagnetic anisotropy.

The molecules align along the direction of an external magnetic field.

Orientation due to surface interactions Homeotropic orientation

Planar orientation The polymer solution is spin coated on the surface

Orientation of LC due to surface effects

Summary concerning the Orientation of LC

1. LC can easily oriented by different means 2. Orientation on macroscopic scales (~100cm) was for a long time not possible, but is no problem in modern technology

4. Structural and optical properties of LC

Structural studies of LCs

•Peaks arise from the average end-to-end and side-to- side separations of the close-packed molecules. •The peaks are diffuse because positional correlations only extend over short distances, typically, a few molecular diameters. •The widths of the diffuse maxima are inversely proportional to these correlation lengths.

Structural studies of LCs


Structural studies of LCs 1400



1200 o

60 C

3BT 60°C a = 8.00 ± 0,02 Å b = 5.35 ± 0,02 Å c = 17/36 ± 0,05Å

Intensity/ a.u.

1000 800 600

(110) (111)








0 0








a – distance between two molecules b – diameter of the molecules c –layer thickness BBOA

a = 5.02±0.2 °A, c = 27.56 ± 0.05

Optical properties of LCs • Birefringence (double refraction) - the decomposition of a light beam into two rays (the ordinary and the extraordinary rays) when it passes through materials. • Velocities of both components, are different and vary with the propagation direction through the specim and the waves get out of phase.

ordinary ray

Unpolarized light

extraordinary ray

Twisted nematic liquid crystal display

First LCD • 1969 – George Heilmeier, RCA David Sarnoff Research Center, first liquid crystalline display (125 oC,) •DSM (dynamic scattering method) :an electrical charge is applied which rearranges the molecules so that they scatter light)

The picture above shows George Heilmeier with the first dynamic scattering method-based liquid crystal display

Experiment: How does a LC display work?

Experiment: How does a LC display work?

Summary concerning the structural and optical properties of LC 1. The structural properties of LC are explored by X-ray and ν - diffraction 2. The pronounced optical bifringence is the basis for applications in displays

5. Textures of LC

• polarization colors result from the interference of the two components of light split by the anisotropic specimen and may be regarded as white light minus those colors that are interfering destructively

Schlieren Defect Texture (Nematic) Distribution of directors in the neighborhood of 4 brushed defects

dark brush

Distribution of directors in the neighborhood of 2 brushed defects

dark brush

Crossed polarizers

Fan shape focal-conic smectic A

Schlieren Defects in Antiferroelectric LCs

Textures Textures - delocalized topological defects

As the number defects increases the entropy (S) gets larger and free energy (G) decreases G = E - TS internal energy

Mosaic textures

Mosaic texture (smectic B)

Mosaic texture (smectic G)

Summary concerning the textures of LC

1. The textures of LC are a „world“ for itself. 2. Under normal conditions a manifold of defects of different topology can be observed

Final Summary for LC 1. LC form a special class of materials between the solid and the liquid state 2. LC show a manifold of mesophases which is determined by ist chemical structure 3. LC gained tremendous technological impact within the last 2 decades 4. LC can be incorporated into polymeric and elastomeric systems; by that novel materials are designed, e.g. artificial muscles or soft organic lasers

Kontrollfragen zu der Vorlesung am 2.2.2015

153.Durch welche Eigenschaften sind „Flüssigkristalle“ ausgezeichnet? 154.Welche molekulare Eigenschaft verursacht den flüssigkristallinen Charakter? 155.Wie unterscheidet man zwischen thermotropen und lyotropen Flüssigkristallen? 156.Wie werden die flüssigkristalline Mesophasen klassifiziert? 157.Wie funktioniert ein Flüssigkristall-Display? Welchen Vorteil haben solche Anzeigeelemente? 158.Welche weiteren großtechnischen Anwendungen von Flüssigkristallen kennen Sie?