CdSe nanoparticles dispersed in ferroelectric smectic liquid crystals: effects upon the smectic order and the smectic-A to chiral smectic-C phase transition

Phys Rev E Stat Nonlin Soft Matter Phys. 2013 Sep;88(3):032504. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevE.88.032504. Epub 2013 Sep 18.


Spherical CdSe nanoparticles, surface-treated with oleylamine and tri-octylphosphine, dispersed in ferroelectric liquid crystals, can efficiently target disclination lines, substantially altering the macroscopic properties of the host compound. Here we present an ac calorimetry and x-ray diffraction study demonstrating that for a large range of nanoparticle concentrations the smectic-A layer thickness increases monotonically. This provides evidence for enhanced accumulation of nanoparticles at the smectic layers. Our results for the Smectic-A (SmA) to chiral smectic-C (SmC) phase transition of the liquid crystal S-(+)4-(2'-methylbutyl)phenyl-4'-n-octylbiphenyl-4-carboxylate (CE8) reveal that the character of the transition is profoundly changed as a function of the nanoparticle concentration. Large transition temperature shifts are recorded. Moreover, the heat-capacity peaks exhibit a crossover trend to a step-like anomaly. This behavior may be linked to the weakening of the SmA and SmC order parameter coupling responsible for the observed near-tricritical, mean-field character of the transition in bulk CE8. At lower temperatures, the presence of nanoparticles disrupts the phase sequence involving the tilted hexatic phases most likely by obstructing the establishment of long-range bond-orientational order.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't