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Physical Review E


Measurements of the orientational order parameter of dissolved dichroic dyes are reported for two smectic-A liquid crystals that tilt in the presence of an in-plane electric field without any decrease in the layer spacing. The dye order parameter is determined by measuring the anisotropic absorption of linearly polarized light. Different dyes are used and measurements are also performed on a smectic liquid crystal that tilts with the expected layer contraction to check how closely the measurements reflect the order parameter of the liquid crystal. The variation of the dye order parameter with electric field is in accordance with the recently proposed model of azimuthal disorder of the tilt angle direction, but the surprising finding is that the local dye orientational order parameter is significantly lower than for the smectic liquid crystal that tilts with the expected layer contraction. This suggests that another mechanism might be contributing significantly to the smectic order, one possibility of which is the tendency for different parts of these siloxane-containing molecules to segregate within each layer. Another possible explanation is that the azimuthal disorder is due to a modulated phase with a high enough density of defects to decrease the value of the local order parameter.


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