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Title: Optical properties of bent-core nematic liquid crystals
Author: Addis, James
ISNI:       0000 0004 5355 4250
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2014
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Much of the interest in bent-core compounds in the last few years has centred aroundtheir potential to form nematic liquid crystal phases, which may be both biaxial andpolar. These properties offer possibilities for nematic ferroelectric switching andnonlinear optics applications. In this work, two optical properties, the refractive indices and the second ordernonlinear optical response, were investigated in the high temperature (> 170 °C)nematic phase of a series of bent-core oxadiazole compounds, of varying chain typeand length. An experimental technique, based on the acquisition and analysis of reflectionspectra from liquid crystal cells, and capable of operating at the high temperaturesrequired, was used for the measurement of refractive indices. The extraordinaryrefractive index was found to range from 1.70 to 1.78 over the nematic phase of thebent-core compounds. The ordinary refractive index varied from 1.58 to 1.62. Bothranges of values are higher than is typically observed for rod-like liquid crystals. Thebirefringence took values from ~ 0.10, in the high temperature nematic phase, to~ 0.18, close to the underlying smectic phase. A new experiment was designed, constructed and tested for the second harmonic(SH) measurements. The dependences of the SH on temperature and on scatteringangle are well explained by the theory of SH generation by the flexoelectricpolarisation induced by thermal fluctuations of the director in the nematic phase. Themaximum conversion efficiency was measured to be very low, ~ 1/10000 of apercent. No evidence for the formation of macroscopic biaxial nematic phases was found byeither the refractive indices or SH experiments. However, for the compounds havinglong nematic phases of > 50 °C, different regimes of behaviour in the uniaxialnematic phase were revealed by the SH experiments. This atypical behaviour isconsistent with other reports on these compounds. This study cannot confirm the existence of nanoscale cybotactic clusters in thenematic phases of the bent-core compounds examined but neither is it inconsistentwith them.
Supervisor: Dickinson, Mark; Binks, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: bent-core nematic liquid crystals ; refractive indices ; second harmonic generation