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Molecular structure like of 5CB: Banana-shaped Molecule


The synthesis of a banana-shaped molecule is reported and it is found that the smectic phase which it forms is biaxial with the molecules packed in the best direction into a layer. Because of this characteristic packing, spontaneous polarization appears parallel to the layer and switches on reversal of an applied electric field. This is the first obvious example of ferroelectricity in an achiral smectic phase and is ascribed to the C2v symmetry of the molecular packing.

The phase behaviour of achiral banana-shaped molecules was studied by computer simulation. The banana-shaped molecules were described by model intermolecular interactions based on the Gay-Berne potential. The characteristic molecular structure was considered by joining two calamitic Gay-Berne particles through a bond to form a biaxial molecule of point symmetry group C 2v with a suitable bending angle.

The dependence on temperature of systems of N=1024 rigid banana-shaped molecules with bending angle φ =140° has been studied by means of Monte Carlo simulations in the isobaric-isothermal ensemble (NpT). On cooling an isotropic system, two phase transitions characterized by phase transition enthalpy, entropy and relative volume change have been observed. For the first time by computer simulation of a many-particle system of banana-shaped molecules, at low temperature an untilted smectic phase showing a global phase biaxiality and a spontaneous local polarization in the layers, i.e. a local polar arrangement of the steric dipoles, with an antiferroelectric-like superstructure could be proven, a phase structure which recently has been discovered experimentally. Additionally, at intermediate temperature a nematic-like phase has been proved, whereas close to the transition to the smectic phase hints of a spontaneous achiral symmetry breaking have been determined. Here, in the absence of a layered structure a helical superstructure has been formed. All phases have been characterized by visual representations of selected configurations, scalar and pseudoscalar correlation functions, and order parameters.

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