Smectic and Columnar Liquid Crystals: Concepts and Physical Properties Illustrated by Experiments, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Smectic and Columnar Liquid Crystals

Concepts and Physical Properties Illustrated by Experiments, 1st Edition

By Patrick Oswald, Pawel Pieranski

CRC Press

712 pages | 451 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2005-12-09
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Liquid crystals allow us to perform experiments that provide insight into fundamental problems of modern physics, such as phase transitions, frustration, elasticity, hydrodynamics, defects, growth phenomena, and optics.

Smectic and Columnar Liquid Crystals: Concepts and Physical Properties Illustrated by Experiments is a result of personal research and of the graduate lectures given by the authors at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and the University of Paris VII, respectively. The book examines lamellar (smectic) and columnar liquid crystals, which, in addition to orientational order, possess 1D, 2D or 3D positional order. This volume illustrates original physical concepts using methodically numerous experiments, theoretical developments, and diagrams. Topics include rheology and plasticity, ferroelectricity, analogies with superconductors, hexatic order and 2D-melting, equilibrium shapes, facetting, and the Mullins-Sekerka instability, as well as phase transitions in free films and membrane vibrations. Nematic and cholesteric liquid crystals are covered by the authors in a separate volume entitled Nematic and Cholesteric Liquid Crystals: Concepts and Physical Properties Illustrated by Experiments.

Smectic and Columnar Liquid Crystals is an ideal introduction and a valuable source of reference for theoretical and experimental studies of advanced students and researchers in liquid crystals, condensed matter physics, and materials science.


". . . an excellent book . . . well illustrated by diagrams and very good accounts of experiments which amply illustrate the important and fascinating properties of these materials . . . a timely publication . . ."

– David Harwood, Institute for Science Education, University of Plymouth, in Physical Sciences Educational Reviews, Vol. 7, No. 2

Table of Contents


Preface to the English edition


Structure of the Smectic A Phase and the Transition Toward the Nematic Phase

Lamellar Structure of the Smectic A Phase

The Smectic A-Nematic Transition: a Simplified Approach

De Gennes' Theory of the Smectic A-Nematic Transition: Analogy With Superconductivity

Pretransitional Effects in the Nematic Phase

Influence of the Fluctuations in Director Orientation on the Transition Order: the Theory of Halperin, Lubensky, and Ma

An Alternative Theory

Appendix 1: Superconducting Vortices and Screw Dislocations

Appendix 2: X-ray Scattering and the Determination of the Structure Factor

Continuum Theory of Smectics A Hydrodynamics

Static Description

Layer Undulation Instability

Equations of Smectic Hydrodynamics

Sound Propagation in Smectics

Continuous flow

Dislocations, Focal Conics, and Rheology of Smectics A

Focal conics


Rheological Behavior at Low Shear Rate and Lubrication Theory

Rheological Behavior at High Shear Rates


Ferroelectric and Antiferroelectric Mesophases

Do Ferroelectric Mesophases Exist?

Genesis of the Smectic C* Phase

Experimental Evidence for the Spontaneous Polarization

Measurement and Use of the Spontaneous Polarization

Hydroelectric Effect

Electromechanical Effect

The SmA -> SmC* Transition

Anticlinic, Mesophases, Antiferroelectric and Ferrielectric

Mesophases Formed by Banana-Shaped Molecules

The Twist-Grain Boundary Smectics

The Renn-Lubensky Model

Discovery of the TGBA Phase

Other TGB Phases

Elasticity of the TGB Phases

Smectic Blue Phases

Hexatic Smectics

Theory of Two-Dimensional Melting: the Hexatic Phase

Hexatic Smectics

Quasi-Elastic Light Scattering


Appendix 1: Peierls Disorder

The Smectic B Plastic Crystal

Structure of Smectic B Phases

Elastic and Plastic Properties

Equilibrium Shape of a Smectic B Germ

Herring instability

Instabilities of the SmA-SmB Front in Directional Growth

Appendix 1: Creep by Crossing of Localized Obstacles

Smectic Free Films

Making Smectic Films

Some Crucial Experiments

Thermodynamics of Thermotropic Films

Steps in Smectic Films

Film Structure and Phase Transitions at a Fixed Number of Layers

Smectic Films as Model Systems

Columnar Phases

Structure and Optical Properties


Developable Domains


Measurement of the Elastic Constants

Mechanical Instabilities

Dynamics of the Buckling Instabilities

Light Scattering

Threads of Columnar Mesophases

Growth of a Columnar Hexagonal Phase

Phase Diagram and Physical Constants of the Material

Growth in the Diffusive Regime (0

About the Authors/Editors

Patrick Oswald

About the Series

Liquid Crystals Book Series

The Liquid Crystals Book Series publishes authoritative accounts of all aspects of the field, ranging from the basic fundamentals to the forefront of research, from the physics of liquid crystals to their chemical and biological properties, and from their self-assembling structures to their applications in devices. The series provides readers new to liquid crystals with a firm grounding in the subject, while offering experienced scientists and liquid crystallographers an indispensable resource to enhance their own research.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Chemistry / General
SCIENCE / Chemistry / Physical & Theoretical
SCIENCE / Chemistry / Industrial & Technical
SCIENCE / Solid State Physics