A liquid-crystalline hexagonal columnar phase in highly-dilute suspensions of imogolite nanotubes

Abstract : Liquid crystals have found wide applications in many fields ranging from detergents to information displays and they are also increasingly being used in the 'bottom-up' self-assembly approach of material nano-structuration. Moreover, liquid-crystalline organizations are frequently observed by biologists. Here we show that one of the four major lyotropic liquid-crystal phases, the columnar one, is much more stable on dilution than reported so far in literature. Indeed, aqueous suspensions of imogolite nanotubes, at low ionic strength, display the columnar liquid-crystal phase at volume fractions as low as B0.2%. Consequently, due to its low visco-elasticity, this columnar phase is easily aligned in an alternating current electric field, in contrast with usual columnar liquid-crystal phases. These findings should have important implications for the statistical physics of the suspensions of charged rods and could also be exploited in materials science to prepare ordered nanocomposites and in biophysics to better understand solutions of rod-like biopolymers.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, January 6, 2016 - 2:57:41 PM
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Erwan Paineau, Marie-Eve M. Krapf, Mohamed-Salah Amara, Natalia V. Matskova, Ivan Dozov, et al.. A liquid-crystalline hexagonal columnar phase in highly-dilute suspensions of imogolite nanotubes. Nature Communications, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 7, pp.10271. ⟨10.1038/ncomms10271⟩. ⟨cea-01251618⟩

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