The formation of biaxial nematic phases in binary mixtures of thermotropic liquid-crystals composed of uniaxial molecules

Skutnik, Robert A.; Lehmann, Louis; PĂĽschel-Schlotthauer, Sergej; Jackson, George; Schoen, Martin

FG Theoretische Chemie

Monte Carlo simulations in the isothermal-isobaric ensemble are used to investigate the formation of an ordered, biaxial nematic phase in a binary mixture of thermotropic liquid crystals. The orientational dependence of the interaction between molecules of each pure component is the same as in the well-known Maier-Saupe model; each pure component of the mixture is therefore capable of forming a uniaxial nematic phase. For the interaction between molecules of different components, weuse the same Maier-Saupe model but change the sign of the coupling constant. As a consequence a T-shaped arrangement of these molecules is energetically favoured. The formation of the biaxial phase occurs in two steps. At higher temperatures T, one of the components forms a uniaxial nematic phase whereas the other is in a quasi two-dimensional restricted isotropic liquid state. We develop a simple theoretical model to understand the high degree of (ostensible) nematic order in the latter. At lower T, the second component becomes nematic and then the entire mixture of the two compounds has biaxial symmetry. The biaxial nematic phase does not demix into domains rich in molecules of one or the other species.