Phase behaviour of macromolecular liquid crystalline materials : computational studies at the molecular level
Molecular simulations provide an increasingly useful insight into the static and dynamic characteristics of materials. In this thesis molecular simulations of macro-molecular liquid crystalline materials are reported. The first liquid crystalline material that has been investigated is a side chain liquid crystal polymer (SCLCP). In this study semi-atomistic molecular dynamics simulations have been conducted at a range of temperatures and an aligning potential has been applied to mimic the effect of a magnetic field. In cooling the SCLCP from an isotropic melt, microphase separation was observed yielding a domain structure. The application of a magnetic field to this structure aligns the domains producing a stable smectic mesophase. This is the first study in which mesophases have been observed using an off-lattice model of a SCLCP. The second material that has been investigated is a dendrimer with terminal mesogenic functionalization. Here, a multi-scale approach has been taken with Monte Carlo studies of a single dendrimer molecule in the gas phase at the atomistic level, semi-atomistic molecular dynamics of a single molecule in liquid crystalline solvents and a coarse-grained molecular dynamics study of the dendrimer in the bulk. The coarse-grained model has been developed and parameterized using the results of the atomistic and semi-atomistic work. The single molecule studies showed that the liquid crystalline dendrimer was able to change its structure by conformational changes in the flexible chains that link the mesogenic groups to the core. Structural change was seen under the application of a mean field ordering potential in the gas phase, and in the presence of liquid crystalline solvents. No liquid crystalline phases were observed for the bulk phase studies of the coarse-grained model. However, when the length of the mesogenic units was increased there was some evidence for microphase separation in these systems.