Surface effects in nucleation and growth of smectic-B crystals in thin samples

T. Börzsönyi, S. Akamatsu

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We present an experimental study of the surface effects (interactions with the container walls) during the nucleation and growth of smectic-[formula presented] (SmB) crystals from the nematic in free growth and directional solidification of a mesogenic molecule [formula presented] called CCH4 in thin (of thickness in the [formula presented] range) samples. We follow the dynamics of the system in real time with a polarizing microscope. The inner surfaces of the glass-plate samples are coated with polymeric films, either rubbed polyimid (PI) films or mono-oriented poly(tetrafluoroethylene) (PTFE) films deposited by friction at high temperature. The orientation of the nematic and the smectic-[formula presented] is planar. In PI-coated samples, the orientation effect of SmB crystals is mediated by the nematic, whereas, in PTFE-coated samples, it results from a homoepitaxy phenomenon occurring for two degenerate orientations. A recrystallization phenomenon partly destroys the initial distribution of crystal orientations. In directional solidification of polycrystals in PTFE-coated samples, a particular dynamics of faceted grain boundary grooves is at the origin of a dynamical mechanism of grain selection. Surface effects also are responsible for the nucleation of misoriented terraces on facets and the generation of lattice defects in the solid.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical Physics, Plasmas, Fluids, and Related Interdisciplinary Topics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 19 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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