Journal of Colloid and Interface Science
We reported recently that amphiphilic polymers can be assembled at interfaces created between aqueous phases and thermotropic liquid crystals (LCs) in ways that: (i) couple the organization of the polymer to the order of the LC and (ii) respond to changes in the properties of aqueous phases that can be characterized as changes in the optical appearance of the LC. This investigation sought to characterize the behavior of aqueous-LC interfaces decorated with uniaxially compressed thin films of polymers transferred by Langmuir-Schaefer (LS) transfer. Here, we report physicochemical characterization of interfaces created between aqueous phases and the thermotropic LC 4-cyano-4′-pentylbiphenyl (5CB) decorated with Langmuir films of a novel amphiphilic polymer (polymer 1), synthesized by the addition of hydrophobic and hydrophilic side chains to poly(2-vinyl-4,4′-dimethylazlactone). Initial characterization of this system resulted in the unexpected observation of uniform azimuthal alignment of 5CB after LS transfer of the polymer films to aqueous-5CB interfaces. This paper describes characterization of Langmuir films of polymer 1 hosted at aqueous-5CB interfaces as well as the results of our investigations into the origins of the uniform ordering of the LC observed upon LS transfer. Our results, when combined, support the conclusion that uniform azimuthal alignment of 5CB is the result of long-range ordering of polymer chains in the Langmuir films (in a preferred direction orthogonal to the direction of compression) that is generated during uniaxial compression of the films prior to LS transfer. Although past studies of Langmuir films of polymers at aqueous-air interfaces have demonstrated that in-plane alignment of polymer backbones can be induced by uniaxial compression, these past reports have generally made use of polymers with rigid backbones. One important outcome of this current study is thus the observation of anisotropy and long-range order in Langmuir films of a novel flexible polymer. A second important outcome is the observation that the existence, extent, and dynamics of this order can be identified and characterized optically by transfer of the Langmuir film to a thin film of LC. Additional characterization of Langmuir films of two other flexible polymers [poly(methyl methacrylate) and poly(vinyl stearate)] using this method also resulted in uniform azimuthal alignment of 5CB, suggesting that the generation of long-range order in uniaxially compressed Langmuir films of polymers may also occur more generally over a broader range of polymers with flexible backbones.
Interfaces, Langmuir-Schaefer, Liquid crystals, Polymer, Uniform alignment
Kinsinger, Michael I.; Buck, Maren E.; Meli, Maria Victoria; Abbott, Nicholas L.; and Lynn, David M., "Langmuir Films of Flexible Polymers Transferred to Aqueous/Liquid Crystal Interfaces Induce Uniform Azimuthal Alignment of the Liquid Crystal" (2010). Chemistry: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.