J. Phys. II France
Volume 5, Number 9, September 1995
Page(s) 1385 - 1405
DOI: 10.1051/jp2:1995189
J. Phys. II France 5 (1995) 1385-1405

Columnar to Nematic Mesophase Transition: Binary Mixtures of Copper Soaps with Hydrocarbons

R. Seghrouchni and A. Skoulios

Groupe des Matériaux Organiques, Institut de Physique et Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg UMR 0046 (CNRS-ULP-EHICS), 23 rue du Loess, 67037 Strasbourg Cedex, France

(Received 5 April 1995, accepted 17 May 1995)

Copper (II) soaps are known to produce columnar mesophases at high temperatures. The polar groups of the soap molecules are stacked over one another within columns surrounded by the paraffin chains in a disordered conformation and laterally arranged according to a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice. Upon addition of a hydrocarbon, the mesophases swell homogeneously. The hydrocarbon molecules locate themselves among the disordered chains of the soap molecules, the columnar cores remain perfectly unchanged, keeping a constant intra-columnar stacking period, and the hexagonal lattice expands in proportion to the amount of hydrocarbon added to the system. Beyond a certain degree of swelling, the columnar mesophases suddenly turn into a nematic mesophase through a first-order phase transition. The structural elements that align parallel to the nematic director are the very same molecular columns that are involved in the columnar mesophases. The columnar to nematic mesophase transition was studied systematically as a function of the molecular size of the soaps and hydrocarbons used as diluents and discussed on a molecular level, emphasizing such aspects as the persistence length of the paraffin chains and the location of the solvent molecules among the columns.

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