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Ferroelectric Columnar Liquid Crystal Featuring Confined Polar Groups Within Core–Shell Architecture

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Science  13 Apr 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6078, pp. 209-213
DOI: 10.1126/science.1217954

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Finessing Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals

For a material to show a ferroelectric response, it needs to have segments that can be polarized, with a net polarization that remains when the applied field is removed. However, the fluidity that allows liquid crystal molecules to easily move under an applied force also makes it hard to create a ferroelectric response. Miyajima et al. (p. 209) show that a set of columnar liquid crystal molecules, with polar cyano groups tethered to amide-capped nonpolar chains, can assemble into an umbrella-shaped core–shell architecture, in which hydrogen bonding among the amides keeps the cyano groups confined. With only subtle variations in the tether chemistry, the assemblies can be tuned from having a para-electric to a ferroelectric response, which requires only a small coercive field.

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