Calorimetric study of the nematic to smectic-A and smectic-A to smectic-C phase transitions in liquid-crystal-aerosil dispersions

A Roshi, G S Iannacchione, Paul Clegg, R J Birgeneau, M E Neubert

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A high-resolution calorimetric study has been carried out on nanocolloidal dispersions of aerosils in the liquid crystal 4-n-pentylphenylthiol-4(')-n-octyloxybenzoate ((8) over bar S5) as a function of aerosil concentration and temperature spanning the smectic-C to nematic phases. Over this temperature range, this liquid crystal possesses two continuous XY phase transitions: a fluctuation-dominated nematic to smectic-A transition with alpha approximate to alpha(XY) = -0.013 and a mean-field smectic-A to smectic-C transition. The effective critical character of the N-SmA transition remains unchanged over the entire range of the introduced quenched random disorder while the peak height and enthalpy can be well described by considering a cutoff length scale to the quasicritical fluctuations. The robust nature of the N-SmA transition in this system contrasts with cyanobiphenyl-aerosil systems and may be due to the mesogens being nonpolar and having a long nematic range. The character of the SmA-SmC transition changes gradually with increasing disorder but remains mean field like. The heat capacity maximum at the SmA-SmC transition scales as rho(S)(-0.5) with an apparent evolution from tricritical to a simple mean-field step behavior. These results may be generally understood as a stiffening of the liquid crystal (both the nematic elasticity as well as the smectic layer compression modulus B) with silica density.

Original languageEnglish
Article number051716
Pages (from-to)-
Number of pages10
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


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