Research Article

Universality and Scaling in the Disordering of a Smectic Liquid Crystal

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Science  02 Nov 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5544, pp. 1074-1079
DOI: 10.1126/science.1057480

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We present experimental and theoretical studies of the effects of quenched disorder on one-dimensional crystal ordering in three dimensions. This fragile smectic liquid crystal layering, the material with the simplest positional order, is also the most easily deformed periodic structure and is, therefore, profoundly affected by disorder, introduced here by confinement in silica aerogel. Theory and experiment combine to characterize this system to an extraordinary degree, their close accord producing a coherent picture: crystal ordering is lost, giving way to extended short-range correlations that exhibit universal structure and scaling, anomalous layer elasticity, and glassy dynamics.

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