• Smekhova, A.; Novotná, V.; Fekete, L.; Abrudan, R.; Fondell, M.; Hamplová, V.; Ostrovskii, B.I.: Ultra-short helix pitch and spiral ordering in cholesteric liquid crystal revealed by resonant soft X-ray scattering. Soft Matter 18 (2022), p. 89-96

Open Accesn Version

The spontaneous formation of chiral structures offers a variety of liquid crystals (LC) phases that could be further tailored for practical applications. In our work, the characteristic features of spiral ordering in the cholesteric phase of EZL10/10 LC were evaluated. To disclose resonant reflections related to a nanoscale helix pitch, resonant soft X-ray scattering at the carbon K edge was employed. The angular positions of the observed element-specific scattering peaks reveal a half-pitch of the spiral ordering p/2 ≈ 52 nm indicating the full pitch of about 104 nm at room temperature. The broadening of the peaks points to a presence of coherently scattering finite-size domains formed by cholesteric spirals with lengths of about five pitches. No scattering peaks were detectable in the EZL10/10 isotropic phase at higher temperatures. The characteristic lengths extracted from the resonant soft X-ray scattering experiment agree well with the periodicity of the surface “fingerprint” pattern observed in the EZL10/10 cholesteric phase by means of atomic force microscopy. The stability of LC molecules under the incident beam was proven by X-ray absorption spectroscopy in transmission geometry.