Molecular Shape, Electronic Factors and the Ferroelectric Nematic Phase: Investigating the Impact of Structural Modifications

Naila Tufaha, Ewan Cruickshank, Damian Pociecha, Ewa Gorecka, John Mervyn David Storey, Corrie Thomas Imrie

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The synthesis and characterisation of two series of low molar mass mesogens, the (4-nitrophenyl) 2-alkoxy-4-(4-methoxybenzoyl)oxybenzoates (NT3.m) and the (3-fluoro-4-nitrophenyl) 2-alkoxy-4-(4-methoxybenzoyl)oxybenzoates (NT3F.m), are reported in order to investigate the effect of changing the position of a lateral alkoxy chain from the methoxy-substituted terminal ring to central phenyl ring in these two series of materials based on RM734. All members of the NT3.m series exhibited a conventional nematic phase, N, which preceded the ferroelectric nematic phase, NF, whereas all the members of the NT3F.m series exhibited direct NF-I transitions except for NT3F.1 which also exhibited a N phase. These materials cannot be described as wedge-shaped, yet their values of TNFN exceed those of the corresponding materials with the lateral alkoxy chain located on the methoxy-substituted terminal ring. In part, this may be attributed to the effect that changing the position of the lateral alkoxy chain has on the electronic properties of these materials, specifically in the electron density associated with the methoxy-substituted terminal aromatic ring. The value of TNI decreased with the addition of a fluorine atom ortho to the nitro group in NT3F.1, however, the opposite behaviour is found comparing the transition temperatures of the NF phase which are higher for the NT3F.m series, and this may reflect a change in the polarity and polarizability of those materials. This suggests that, rather than simply promoting a tapered shape, the role of the lateral chain in inhibiting anti-parallel associations and its effect on the electronic properties of the molecules are the key factors in driving the formation of the NF phase.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere202300073
Number of pages11
JournalChemistry : a European Journal
Issue number28
Early online date20 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2023

Bibliographical note

C. T. I. and J. M. D. S. acknowledge the financial support of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council [EP/V048775/1]. D. P. gratefully thanks the National Science Centre (Poland) under the grant no. 2021/43/B/ST5/00240.

Data Availability Statement

The data that support the findings of this study are available in the supplementary material of this article.


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