Structure of Membrane Surfactant and Liquid Crystalline Smectic Lamellar Phases Under Flow

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Science  30 Jul 1993:
Vol. 261, Issue 5121, pp. 588-591
DOI: 10.1126/science.261.5121.588


Synchrotron x-ray scattering studies were performed to probe the nonequilibrium structures of two layered systems at high shear rates: the smectic-A phase of the thermotropic liquid crystal 4-cyano-4'-octylbiphenyl (8CB) and the lamellar Lα phases of surfactant membranes composed of sodium dodecyl sulfate and pentanol. Whereas the lamellar surfactant phases oriented primarily with their layers parallel to the shearing plates, as expected intuitively, in the corresponding high shear regime, the smectic-A liquid crystalline material oriented with the layers perpendicular to the shearing plates. A careful numerical study revealed that this surprising layer orientation results from nonlinear dynamics of the liquid crystal director and is caused by the flow distortion of thermal fluctuations.