On chiral liquid crystal phases – the publication of an FNP competition winner in Advanced Materials

Dodano: :: Kategorie: Latest news
-A A+

An international group of scientists from universities in Warsaw, Maribor and San Sebastian, with the participation of dr hab.  Wiktor Lewandowski, dr hab. Damian Pociecha, prof. of the University of Warsaw, and prof. dr hab. Ewa Górecka from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Warsaw, has just published a review article on chiral liquid crystal phases in Advanced Materials, a prestigious scientific journal. The study was made possible with the support, i.a., the FIRST TEAM grant of the Foundation for Polish Science managed by dr hab. Wiktor Lewandowski.

Chirality, i.e. the possibility for an object to occur in two almost identical forms being a mirror image of each other (e.g., the right hand versus the left hand, the spiral turning right versus left), is omnipresent in nature. Chirality is a notion used, i.a., in the context of subatomic particles, single molecules, tissues and galaxies. This property of matter is particularly important in the pharmaceutical and medical industries, as biological systems are highly specialised in recognising, selecting and controlling chirality. However, despite extensive research, we still have not achieved a full understanding of these phenomena.

A great model for researching chirality are liquid crystal (LC) phases known from display screens, which in many aspects share the properties of biological systems – they show a certain degree of order, a dynamic structure and switchable properties. The first chiral LC phase was discovered at the turn of the 20th century, but due to a rapid development of material chemistry and nanotechnology tools, in the last 10 years more new chiral LC phases have been described than in the previous 100 years!

In the prepared study, the researchers are analysing the development possibilities of chiral LCs. In addition to the historical background, they discuss the respective types of phases and the ways of investigating their structure and properties. The focus is in particular on the application of the recently developed research tools – Resonant X-ray Scattering (RXS). The method, contrary to standard x-ray diffraction methods, can provide information on the chiral arrangement of molecules forming a given material. The study shows how to interpret results obtained with this method and how to observe the phenomenon of chirality transfer between structures of varying sizes. It also discusses technological perspectives of using chiral liquid crystal phases, especially in the context of their integration with other functional materials.

More information:

Photo: (from the left) dr hab. Wiktor Lewandowski, prof. Nataša Vautopic, prof. dr hab. Ewa Górecka_private collection