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Molecular theory of proper ferroelectricity in bent-core liquid crystals

Osipov, Mikhail and Pajak, Grzegorz (2014) Molecular theory of proper ferroelectricity in bent-core liquid crystals. European Physical Journal E - Soft Matter, 37. ISSN 1292-8941

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Antiferro- and ferro-electric ordering has been discovered in orthogonal smectic phases composed of nonchiral bent-core molecules. These systems are the only proper fluid ferroelectrics confirmed experimentally so far. We consider a molecular theory of proper ferroelectric ordering in isotropic, nematic and smectic A phases and conclude that the delicate balance between the tendencies for local parallel and antiparallel ordering of molecular electric and steric dipoles is strongly shifted in restricted geometries. This is a reason why dipolar ordering is more likely to occur within a smectic layer. We derive model interaction potentials for polar bent-core molecules and present the results of the mean-field theory of ferroelectric ordering in the orthogonal smectic phase taking into account also the molecular biaxiality. Order parameter profiles have been calculated numerically and phase diagrams are presented which enable one to analyze the relative importance of dipole-dipole interaction and intermolecular attraction modulated by polar bent-core molecular shape.