Two approaches exist in the literature for describing the orientational distribution function (ODF) of the molecular directors in SmA∗ phase of liquid crystals, though several models are recently proposed in the literature for explaining the de Vries behaviour. These ODFs correspond to either the conventional unimodal arrangements of molecular directors arising from the mean field theory that leads to the broad or sugar-loaf like distribution or to the "diffuse-cone-shaped" type distribution proposed by de Vries. The hypothesis by de Vries provides for a realistic explanation as to how at a molecular level, a first-order SmA∗ to SmC∗ transition can occur where the uniform molecular director azimuthal distributions condense to values lying within a narrow range of angles; finally these condense to a single value while at the same time ensuring a little or no concomitant shrinkage in the layer spacing. The azimuthal distribution of the in-layer directors is probed using IR and polarized Raman spectroscopic techniques. The latter allows us to obtain the ODF and the various order parameters for the uniaxial and the biaxial phases. Based on the results of these measurements, we conclude that the "cone-shaped" (or volcano-shaped) de Vries type of distribution can most preferably describe SmA∗ where "a first-order phase transition from SmA∗ to SmC∗" and a low layer shrinkage can both be easily explained.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry