Multi-level chirality in liquid crystals formed by achiral molecules

Mirosław Salamończyk, Nataša Vaupotič* (Corresponding Author), Damian Pociecha, Rebecca Walker, John M. D. Storey, Corrie T. Imrie, Cheng Wang, Chenhui Zhu, Ewa Gorecka* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Complex materials often exhibit a hierarchical structure with an intriguing mechanism responsible for the 'propagation' of order from the molecular to the nano- or micro-scale level. In particular, the chirality of biological molecules such as nucleic acids and amino acids is responsible for the helical structure of DNA and proteins, which in turn leads to the lack of mirror symmetry of macro-bio-objects. To fully understand mechanisms of cross-level order transfer there is an intensive search for simpler artificial structures exhibiting hierarchical arrangement. Here we present complex systems built of achiral molecules that show four levels of structural chirality: layer chirality, helicity of a basic repeating unit, mesoscopic helix and helical filaments. The structures are identified by a combination of hard and soft x-ray diffraction measurements, optical studies and theoretical modelling. Similarly to many biological systems, the studied materials exhibit a coupling between chirality at different levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1922
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2019

Bibliographical note

M.S., D.P., and N.V. acknowledge the support of the National Science Centre (Poland) under the grant no. 2016/22/A/ST5/00319. E.G. acknowledges the funding from the Foundation for Polish Science through the Sabbatical Fellowships Program. N.V. acknowledges the support of the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), through the research core funding no. P1-0055. R.W. gratefully acknowledges the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland for funding the award of a PhD scholarship. The beamline at the Advanced Light Source at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is supported by the director of the Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, of the U.S. Department of Energy under Contract No. DE-AC02-05CH11231.




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