Twist-Bend Nematic Glasses: The Synthesis and Characterisation of Pyrene-based Nonsymmetric Dimers

Chemphyschem. 2021 Mar 3;22(5):461-470. doi: 10.1002/cphc.202000993. Epub 2021 Feb 3.


A selection of pyrene-based liquid crystal dimers have been prepared, containing either methylene-ether or diether linked spacers of varying length and parity. All the diether linked materials, CBOnO.Py (n=5, 6, 11, 12), exhibit conventional nematic and smectic A phases, with the exception of CBO11O.Py which is exclusively nematic. The methylene-ether linked dimer, CBnO.Py, with an even-membered spacer (n=5) was solely nematogenic, but odd-members (n=6, 8, 10) exhibited both nematic and twist-bend nematic phases. Replacement of the cyanobiphenyl fragment by cyanoterphenyl giving CT6O.Py, gave elevated melting and nematic-isotropic transition temperatures, and SmA and SmCA phases were observed on cooling the nematic phase. Intermolecular face-to-face associations of the pyrene moieties drive glass formation, and all these materials have a glass transition temperature at or above room temperature. The stability of the glassy twist-bend nematic phase allowed for its study using AFM, and the helical pitch length, PTB , was measured as 6.3 and 6.7 nm for CB6O.Py and CB8O.Py, respectively. These values are comparable to the shortest pitch of a twist-bend nematic phase measured to date.

Keywords: glassy phase; liquid crystals; pyrene; spontaneous chirality; twist-bend nematic.