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Lamellar Liquid-Crystalline System with Tunable Iridescent Color by Ionic Surfactants

Cong, Zhenhua, Lin, Bowen, Li, Weiqing, Niu, Jian, Yan, Feng
Langmuir 2017 v.33 no.28 pp. 7147-7151
biocompatibility, color, ionic surfactants, liquid crystals, maleates, nonionic surfactants, separation
Liquid crystals formed by the self-assembly of small molecules are very promising smart materials because of their unique properties, such as self-assembled multivalency, biocompatibility, and fast response to external stimuli. Here we report an iridescent liquid-crystal system composed of water layers, which is sandwiched by two bilayer membranes. Such membranes are composed of a self-assembled nonionic surfactant, which is called hexadecylglyceryl maleate (HGM), and only a small amount of ionic surfactants. It is found that the iridescent color of the liquid crystal system is very sensitive to the concentration of ionic surfactants, even if a trace of change of the ionic surfactants’ concentration will induce the color change of liquid-crystal system. The result shows that with the increase in ionic surfactant concentration, the flat bilayer membrane tends to be curved to form some edge-dislocation defects. The appearance of such defects in the lamellar system leads to the decrease in spacing distance between adjacent bilayer membranes. This is because some vacant spaces emerged inevitably during this process. The ionic surfactant-sensitive HGM system also shows the thermal response. It is because the phase-separation results in the increase in local concentration of SDS in the bilayer membrane, which has the same effect as increasing the SDS concentration in the whole system.