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      Spontaneous formation of macroscopic chiral domains in a fluid smectic phase of achiral molecules

      Science (New York, N.Y.)

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          Abstract

          A smectic liquid-crystal phase made from achiral molecules with bent cores was found to have fluid layers that exhibit two spontaneous symmetry-breaking instabilities: polar molecular orientational ordering about the layer normal and molecular tilt. These instabilities combine to form a chiral layer structure with a handedness that depends on the sign of the tilt. The bulk states are either antiferroelectric-racemic, with the layer polar direction and handedness alternating in sign from layer to layer, or antiferroelectric-chiral, which is of uniform layer handedness. Both states exhibit an electric field-induced transition from antiferroelectric to ferroelectric.

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          9395390

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