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Electric-Field-Induced Chirality in Columnar Liquid Crystals

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journal contribution
posted on 11.06.2021, 14:06 authored by Alberto Concellón, Ru-Qiang Lu, Kosuke Yoshinaga, Hsiu-Fu Hsu, Timothy M. Swager
We describe a novel class of tetraphenylbenzene-based discotic molecules with exceptional self-assembling properties. Absorption and fluorescence studies confirmed the formation of J-type aggregates in solution. The discotic mesogens also show an enhancement of the emission upon aggregation. Interestingly, these discotic molecules displayed enantiotropic hexagonal columnar liquid crystal (LC) phases that can be switched into a helical columnar organization by application of an electric field. The helical columns arise from the electric-field-induced tilt of the polar fluorobenzene ring that directs all of the peripheral phenyl groups into a propeller-like conformation with respect to the central benzene core. A cooperative assembly process of these propeller-shaped molecules resolves into a helical columnar organization, in which the preferred helical sense is obtained from the stereogenic center proximate to the polar carbon–fluorine bond. The ease of inducing chirality in columnar LCs by an electric field presents opportunities to create next-generation chiral materials for a variety of applications.