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Director Structures in Achiral Smectic C Liquid Crystal Cells: Field Induced Twist Domain Nucleation

Noel A. Clark ,Christopher D. Jones ,Ren-Fan Shao ,Aaron G. Rappaport ,Joseph E. Maclennan ,Eva Körblova ,David M. Walba

Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center, Department of Physics, University of Colorado
Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Colorado

The electro-optic response of two achiral smectic C liquid crystals, W479 and 8 S5, in thin surface stabilized cells has been studied using polarized light microscopy. In their virgin (field free) state, W479 cells have “bookshelf” structure, with the smectic layers uniformly tilted with respect to the bounding glass plates, while 8 S5 cells have bent or “chevron” layering. Upon first cooling into the smectic C phase, both materials exhibit domains of uniform optic axis orientation. Subsequent application of an electric field leads to a Freedericksz transition and to the nucleation and growth of non- uniform domains in which the optic axis is twisted. Models for the virgin and field-induced director structures are proposed.

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