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Characterization of the Submicrometer Hierarchy Levels in the Twist-Bend Nematic Phase with Nanometric Helices via Photopolymerization. Explanation for the Sign Reversal in the Polar Response

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Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Trinity College, The University of Dublin, Dublin 2, Ireland
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin 8, Ireland
§ Department of Chemistry, University of Hull, Hull, HU6 7RX, U.K.
Cite this: Nano Lett. 2017, 17, 12, 7515–7519
Publication Date (Web):November 14, 2017
https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b03441
Copyright © 2017 American Chemical Society

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    Photopolymerization of a reactive mesogen mixed with a mesogenic dimer, shown to exhibit the twist-bend nematic phase (NTB), reveals the complex structure of the self-deformation patterns observed in planar cells. The polymerized reactive mesogen retains the structure formed by liquid crystalline molecules in the twist bend phase, thus enabling its observation by scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Hierarchical ordering scales ranging from tens of nanometers to micrometers are imaged in detail. Submicron features, anticipated from earlier X-ray experiments, are visualized directly. In the self-deformation stripes formed in the NTB phase, the average director field is found tilted in the cell plane by an angle of up to 45° from the cell rubbing direction. This tilt explains the sign inversion being observed in the electro-optical studies.

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