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Physical Review E


Light-scattering measurements of the correlation length in the isotropic phase of a nematic liquid crystal reveal a temperature dependence following Landau-de Gennes theory for the isotropic phase with a bare correlation length smaller than has been measured in other liquid crystals. Similar measurements in a cholesteric liquid crystal demonstrate that the correlation length in the isotropic phase is larger than typically found in nematics and that the chirality of the fluctuations in the isotropic phase is slightly higher than the chirality of the cholesteric phase. Landau-de Gennes theory of the cholesteric phase describes the chirality in the cholesteric phase well but predicts that the chirality in the isotropic phase is temperature independent, which is not consistent with the data. There is a discontinuity in the chirality at the cholesteric-isotropic transition of about 15%, which is less than the predictions of Landau-de Gennes theory but more than the typical specific volume discontinuity at transitions to the isotropic phase. Except for a mismatch in the discontinuities at the transition, the chirality data resemble the temperature behavior of variables just below a critical point, in spite of the fact that this system is far from a critical point.


This work is freely available courtesy of the American Physical Society.

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