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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Heliconical-layered nanocylinders (HLNCs) – hierarchical self-assembly in a unique B4 phase liquid crystal morphology


A unique morphology for bent-core liquid crystals forming the B4 phase has been found for a class of tris-biphenyl bent-core liquid crystal molecules with a single chiral side chain in the longer para-side of the molecule. Unlike the parent molecules with two chiral side chains or a chiral side chain in the shorter meta-side, which form helical nano- or microfilament B4 phases, the two derivatives described here form heliconical-layered nanocylinders composed of up to 10 coaxial heliconical layers, which can split or merge, braid, and self-assemble into a variety of modes including feather- or herringbone-type structures, concentric rings, or hollow nest-like superstructures. These multi-level hierarchical self-assembled structures, rivaling muscle fibers, display blue structural color and show immense structural and morphological complexity.

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