Evolution of a rare sequence of surface transitions with temperature and film thickness

B. K. McCoy, Lidong Pan, Z. Q. Liu, S. T. Wang, Shun Wang, J. W. Goodby, C. C. Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In free-standing smectic films, layers near the surfaces of the film often contain molecules tilted away from the layer normal, while in the bulk of the film the magnitude of the tilt decays exponentially with distance from the surface. We have identified the detailed molecular tilt orientations in the surface layers of films for one antiferroelectric liquid crystal compound. A series of five surface structures exists with different nonplanar tilt arrangements for each structure. The molecular orientations in the surface layers evolve with temperature. The polarization of the film also evolves with temperature, corresponding to the tilt arrangements. Using ellipsometric data, we reconstruct the changes in the magnitude and azimuthal direction of the tilt as functions of temperature. We have also studied films of several different thicknesses. We present a phase diagram for the five surface structures showing the dependence on temperature and film thickness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number031712
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 24 2010


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