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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Aug 9;111(6):067801. Epub 2013 Aug 6.

Flexoelectrically driven electroclinic effect in the twist-bend nematic phase of achiral molecules with bent shapes.

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  • 1Physique des Systèmes Complexes, Université de Picardie Jules Verne, 80039 Amiens, France.


We extend the twist-bend nematic (N(TB)) model to describe the electro-optics of this novel phase. We predict an electroclinic effect (ECE) subject to a dc electric field E applied perpendicular to the helix axis or wave vector q, with rotation of the N(TB) optic axis around E. This linear effect, with its flexoelectric origin, is a close analog to the electro-optic effects observed for chiral liquid crystals. However, in nematics composed of achiral molecules having a bent shape, it is the electro-optic signature of the N(TB) phase. We test our model experimentally in the low-temperature nematic phase of the odd liquid crystal dimer, CB7CB, with its molecules having, on average, a bent shape. The ECE measurements confirm the previously proposed twist-bend nematic structure of this phase, with its broken chiral symmetry, extremely short (<10  nm) doubly degenerate pitch and ultrafast, submicrosecond response times.

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