J. Phys. II France
Volume 5, Numéro 11, November 1995
Page(s) 1635 - 1647
DOI: 10.1051/jp2:1995204
J. Phys. II France 5 (1995) 1635-1647

Three-Dimensional Microstructure of a Polymer-Dispersed Liquid Crystal Observed by Transmission Electron Microscopy

Jean Pierron1, Valérie Tournier-Lasserve1, Pierre Sopena1, Alain Boudet1, Pierre Sixou2 and Michel Mitov2

1  CEMES-LOE, CNRS, BP 4347, 31055 Toulouse Cedex, France
2  Laboratoire de Physique de la Matière Condensée UA CNRS 190, Parc Valrose, 06108 Nice Cedex 2, France

(Received 3 April 1995, revised 21 July 1995, accepted 11 August 1995)

A film consisting of an amorphous photo-crosslinkable polymer matrix and a dispersion of microinclusions of a cholesteric polymer was investigated by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). The polymerization procedure of the blend provides a composite with many small nodules of spherical or ellipsoidal shapes, with sizes between 0.4 and 6 $\mu$m. The cholesteric stratification is well evidenced in transmission electron microscopy by dark lines due to diffraction contrast. The 3D organization was reconstructed by the observation of successive ultramicrotomed sections. Six types of nodules were distinguished according to the number of defects (foci or disclination lines), among which only three had already been observed and theoretically calculated. The confined geometry inherent in the size of the nodules, close to the cholesteric pitch, is responsible of these unexpected structures. In these conditions, the surface forces are in tight competition with the cholesteric elastic forces.

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