Heterolithic azobenzene-containing supermolecular tripedal liquid crystals self-organizing into highly segregated bilayered smectic phases
Synthesis, self-organization, and optical properties of supermolecular tripedal liquid crystals incorporating various prototypical mesogenic units such as alkoxy-azobenzene (AZB), alkoxy-biphenylene (BPH) or alkoxy-cyanobiphenyl (OCB) derivatives are reported. Different molecular systems were designed in order to sequentially incorporate the smectogenic-like alkoxy-azobenzene-based chromophore within the molecular structure, whose relative proportion is selectively varied by exchanging with the other mesogens. A divergent synthetic mode was elaborated for their synthesis, starting from the regioselective functionalization of the phloroglucinol-based (PG) inner core. This methodology allowed the preparation of several sets of unconventional tripedal oligomers with conjugated heterolithic structures (made of different blocks, e.g. PG(6)AZB(x)BPH(3-x) and PG(6)AZB(x)OCB(3-x), x = 1 or 2) along the homolithic parents (all identical blocks, e.g. PG(z)AZB(3), z = 6 or 11, z is the number of methylene in the spacer between PG and the protomesogen, PG(6)BPH(3), and PG(6)OCB(3)), respectively. Essentially all the synthesized systems behave as thermotropic liquid crystals and show various types of highly segregated multilayered smectic phases, or, in one case, a nematic phase, depending on the nature of the constitutive anisotropic blocks and on the molecular topology (homolithic versus heterolithic, mesogenic ratio x : 3 - x). The effects of these structural modifications on the mesomorphism (mesophase structures, temperature ranges, and thermodynamic stability) have been investigated by differential scanning calorimetry and small-angle X-ray diffraction experiments combined with dilatometric measurements. Models describing the various supramolecular organizations of these tripedes into such multilayered structures are proposed and discussed. Preliminary results of the investigations of their optical properties will also be presented.