Liquid Crystal Trimers Incorporating Saturated Isosteres of Benzene and Exhibiting Modulated Nematic Phases
The nematic twist-bend (NTB) liquid crystal phase possesses a local helical structure with a pitch length of a few nanometres and is the first example of spontaneous symmetry breaking in a fluid system. All known examples of the NTB phase occur in materials whose constituent mesogenic units are aromatic hydrocarbons. It is not clear if this is due to synthetic convenience or a bona fide structural requirement for a material to exhibit this phase of matter. In this work we demonstrate that materials consisting largely of saturated hydrocarbons could also give rise to this mesophase. Furthermore, replacement of 1,4-disubstituted benzene with trans 1,4-cyclohexane or even 1,4-cubane does not especially alter the transition temperatures of the resulting material nor does it appear to impact upon the heliconical tilt angle, suggesting the local structure of the phase is unperturbed. Calculating the probability distribution of bend angles reveals that the choice of isosteric group has little impact on the overall molecular shape, demonstrating the shape-driven nature of the NTB phase.