Freeze-Fracture Transmission Electron Microscopy

Nucleation and growth of the B4 surface structure of the bent-core liquid crystal P-7-O-PIMB near the liquid crystal/glass interface. In the B4 liquid crystal phase, saddle-splay curvature (negative Gaussian curvature) of smectic layers is adopted, but in the form of catenoids rather than helicoids. This structure can be modeled as a toric focal conic with the dislocation line lying along the liquid crystal/glass interface. As the layer curves away from the dislocation line the layers become flatter and flatter until the high elastic energy cost terminates the growth.

Freeze-fracture transmission electron microscopy (FFTEM) is a powerful technique for imaging the nanometer-scale structure of soft condensed matter, revealing features as small as a single smectic liquid crystal layer (~ 3 nm). We use FFTEM to study the bulk and interfacial structure of equilibrium and non-equilibrium states of liquid crystals and nanocolloids.

Melissa Spannuth and the freeze fracture apparatus.


For more information on the FFTEM system, contact Noel Clark.

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