Smectic order induced at homeotropically aligned nematic surfaces: A neutron reflection study

YGJ Lau, RM Richardson, R Cubitt

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

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neutron reflection was used to measure the buildup of layers at a solid surface as the smectic phase is approached from higher temperatures in a nematic liquid crystal. The liquid crystal was 4-octyl-4-cyanobiphenyl (8CB), and the solid was silicon with one of five different surface treatments that induce homeotropic alignment: (i) silicon oxide; (ii) a cetyltrimethylammonium bromide coating; (iii) an octadecyltrichlorosilane monolayer; (iv) an n-n-dimethyl-n-octadecyl-3- aminopropyltrimethyloxysilyl chloride monolayer; and (v) a lecithin coating. The development of surface smectic layers in the nematic phase of 8CB was followed by measuring specular reflectivity and monitoring the pseudo-Bragg peak from the layers. The scattering data were processed to remove the scattering from short-ranged smecticlike fluctuations in the bulk nematic phase from the specular reflection. The pseudo-Bragg peak at scattering vector Q~0.2 Å-1 therefore corresponded to the formation of long-range smectic layers at the surface. The amplitude of the smectic density wave decayed with increasing distance from the surface, and the characteristic thickness of this smectic region diverged as the transition temperature was approached. It was found that the characteristic thickness for some of the surface treatments was greater than the correlation length in the bulk nematic. The different surfaces gave different values of the smectic order parameter at the surface. This suggests that the interaction with the surface is significantly different from a "hard wall" which would give the same values of the smectic order parameter and penetration depths similar to the bulk correlation length. Comparison of the different surfaces also suggested that the strength and range of the surface smectic ordering may be varied independently.
Translated title of the contributionSmectic order induced at homeotropically aligned nematic surfaces: A neutron reflection study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)234910 - 234919
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Volume124 (23)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: American Institute of Physics

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