Photo-driven effects in twist-bend nematic phases: dynamic and memory response of liquid crystalline dimers

Daniel Zaton, Alexia Karamoula, Grant J. Strachan, John M.D. Storey, Corrie T. Imrie, Alfonso Martinez-Felipe* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We apply UV light to control the stability of twist-bend nematic phases, NTB, and conventional nematic phases, N, in three new liquid crystalline nonsymmetric dimers containing cyanobiphenyl and light-responsive azobenzene fragments connected by a hexyloxy spacer. The dynamic and static (5 kHz) dielectric responses of (E)-4'-(6-(4-((4-(ethoxy)phenyl)diazenyl)phenoxy)hexyl)-[1,1'-
biphenyl]-4-carbonitrile, CB6OAzO2, (E)-4'-(6-(4-((4-hexyloxy)phenyl)diazenyl)phenoxy)hexyl)-[1,1'-biphenyl]-4-carbonitrile, CB6OAzO6, and (E)-4'-(6-(4-((4-hexylphenyl) diazenyl)phenoxy)hexyl)-[1,1'-biphenyl]-4-carbonitrile, CB6OAz6, are measured at different temperatures, in planar and homeotropic alignments, by the application of bias and alternating electrical fields. The three CB6OAz(O)n dimers show high values of the dielectric
mean, 𝜀, an ̅ d dielectric anisotropy, Δ𝜀, due to the dipole moment associated with the cyanobiphenyl groups. The absence of the ether linkage to the terminal chain in CB6OAz6 reduces the NTB - N transition temperature and increases the bend elastic constant, K3, compared to those seen for CB6OAzO6. Isothermal phase transitions are promoted by light-irradiation, via trans-to-cis photoisomerisation of the azobenzene units, resulting in the disruption of the liquid crystal order and appearance of re-entrant nematic and isotropic phases at low temperatures. It is possible to control the dynamics and reversibility of these transitions by varying the chemical structure of the new dimers, the temperature and UV light dosage. This may be exploited in devices using multiple external stimuli.
Original languageEnglish
Article number117680
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of molecular liquids
Early online date19 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021


  • twist-bend nematic phase
  • azobenzene
  • Light-responsive liquid crystals
  • Trans-to-cis photo-isomerisation
  • Isothermal phase transitions


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