Polarity sensitive electric responses in a twisted smectic-C liquid crystal.

Research paper by K S KS Krishnamurthy

Indexed on: 04 Feb '14Published on: 04 Feb '14Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


The observation of two polarity-sensitive electrical responses found in the low-frequency (<1 Hz) regime of a square wave field is reported for an achiral rodlike smectic-C liquid crystal with negative dielectric and conductivity anisotropies and in the 90°-twisted configuration. The first involves a transient director modulation appearing at each polarity reversal and vanishing under steady field conditions. The instability is polarity sensitive, with the maximum distortion localized near the negative electrode instead of the sample midplane. This is inferred from the wave-vector orientation alternating in the two halves of the driving cycle between the alignment directions at the two substrates. Various electro-optic characteristics of this temporal phenomenon are also described. Following a similar observation in nematic liquid crystals, we associate the transient periodic order with the Carr-Helfrich mechanism assisted by quadrupolar flexoelectric polarization obtaining under electric field gradients. The second polarity-sensitive effect manifests in the relative shift of the periodic Fréedericksz pattern upon field reversal. The shift, which is linear in field for low fields, tends to saturate for large fields. It is interpreted as due to flexoelectric polarization associated primarily with the c director twist about the layer normal. A model involving a periodic wedgelike band, which has the twist localized within it and is flanked by two uniformly and transversely aligned regions, accounts for the flexoelectric shift of the optical pattern.