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Science. 2009 Jul 24;325(5939):452-6. doi: 10.1126/science.1170028.

Chiral isotropic liquids from achiral molecules.

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  • 1Department of Physics and Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA. hough@colorado.edu

Abstract

A variety of simple bent-core molecules exhibit smectic liquid crystal phases of planar fluid layers that are spontaneously both polar and chiral in the absence of crystalline order. We found that because of intralayer structural mismatch, such layers are also only marginally stable against spontaneous saddle splay deformation, which is incompatible with long-range order. This results in macroscopically isotropic fluids that possess only short-range orientational and positional order, in which the only macroscopically broken symmetry is chirality--even though the phases are formed from achiral molecules. Their conglomerate domains exhibit optical rotatory powers comparable to the highest ever found for isotropic fluids of chiral molecules.

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