A neutron reflection study of surface enrichment in nematic liquid crystals

GG Alexander, R Cubitt, R. M Dalgliesh, C Kinane, RM Richardson, H. Zimmermann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The interfacial adsorption properties of several different dopants in cyanobiphenyl liquid crystals have been measured using specular neutron reflection. It was found that a partly fluorinated analogue of 11OCB, called F17, adsorbed strongly at the interface between 5CB and air but it was not adsorbed at the interface between 5CB and a solid substrate treated with cetyl trimethyl ammonium bromide (CTAB). The concentration dependence of the adsorption at the air interface was well described by the Brunauer, Emmett and Teller (BET) model, adapted for solutions rather than the gas phase. The isotherms are determined by two equilibrium constants: K(S) for adsorption of the dopant directly at the interface and K(L) for adsorption onto previously adsorbed dopant. The temperature dependence of K(S) indicated that the adsorption enthalpy is not influenced by the phase of the 5CB and its value of - 29 kJmol(-1) is consistent with physical adsorption. The value of K(L) is zero in the isotropic phase but increases rapidly on cooling in the nematic phase suggesting that the F17 is less compatible with nematic than isotropic 5CB. The smallest layer thicknesses (similar to 18 angstrom) suggest that the F17 molecules are approximately perpendicular to the surface. The other dopants studied were components of the E7 mixture: 8OCB and 5CT. No adsorption was found for 8OCB but 5CT showed adsorption at a CTAB treated solid interface when present in 5CB at the 10% level. In this case, the value of KS was much smaller than for F17 but the value of K(L) was such that an exponential concentration profile (predicted by the BET model) was observed with characteristic thickness of similar to 200 angstrom. The results demonstrate the potential for very precise control of surface properties in liquid crystal devices by using appropriate dopants.
Translated title of the contributionA neutron reflection study of surface enrichment in nematic liquid crystals
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14784 - 14794
JournalPhysical Chemistry Chemical Physics
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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