Orientational correlations in liquid crystalline systems revealed by polarization-analyzed resonant x-ray scattering

Ronald Pindak, Peter Mach, Anne Marie Levelut, Philippe Barois, Cheng Cher Huang, Lars Furenlid

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The existence of a helical symmetry axis is widespread in systems exhibiting liquid-crystalline order, especially in systems comprised of chiral molecules. Because these systems usually lack three-dimensional positional order, the helical symmetry axis cannot be observed using conventional x-ray scattering. Since the nature of the helical ordering determines the electro-optic response of the liquid crystal phases, it is a crucial structural feature to establish. Important for device applications are the various chiral smectic-C (SmC*) liquid crystal phases that are composed of fluid-like layers of tilted molecules. The electro-optic response of these phases varies from ferro to ferri to antiferroelectric. To elucidate the structure of the SmC* phases, we did resonant x-ray scattering at the sulfur K-edge on sulfur containing compounds. Our polarization-analyzed measurements of the resonant diffraction provided unambiguous evidence that the in-plane tilt direction in these phases exhibits a helical interlayer orientational ordering with a short pitch = vd where d is the layer spacing. In the lowest temperature SmC* phase, which has antiferroelectric ordering, v was close to 2. At higher temperatures, the ferrielectric phases had v = 3, then 4, and finally, an incommensurate value varying between 5 and 8 with increasing temperature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-313
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - 1999
EventProceedings of the 1999 X-ray Optics Design, Performance, and Applications - Denver, CO, USA
Duration: Jul 20 1999Jul 21 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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