Here we report the chemical induction of the twist-bend nematic phase in a nematic mixture of ether-linked liquid crystal dimers by the addition of a dimer with methylene links; all dimers have an odd number of groups in the spacer connecting the two mesogenic groups. The twist-bend phase has been identified from its optical texture and x-ray scattering pattern as well as NMR spectroscopy, which demonstrates the phase chirality. Theory predicts that the key macroscopic property required for the stability of this chiral phase formed from achiral molecules is for the bend elastic constant to tend to be negative; in addition the twist elastic constant should be smaller than half the splay elastic constant. To test these important aspects of the prediction we have measured the bend and splay elastic constants in the nematic phase preceding the twist-bend nematic using the classic Frederiks methodology and all three elastic constants employing the dynamic light scattering approach. Our results show that, unlike the splay, the bend elastic constant is small and decreases significantly as the transition to the induced twist-bend nematic phase is approached, but then exhibits unexpected behavior prior to the phase transition.
|Physical Review E: Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
|Published - 12 Aug 2013