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Liquid Crystals
Year: 2010  |  Volume: 37  |  Issue: 3  |  Page No.: 271 - 278

A study of the transition of liquid-crystal alignment from homeotropic to planar on a polyimide layer

Jian Wang, Lei Wang, Yu Zeng, Yu-Qing Fang, Qin Zhang and Yinghan Wang    

Abstract: The alignment of nematic liquid crystals by rubbed polyimide surfaces has been well-studied and developed. A novel polyimide film which induced a homeotropic alignment of the nematic liquid crystal without rubbing or with weak rubbing strength was presented. However, there was a transition from homeotropic to planar alignment of the nematic liquid crystal after strong rubbing. In order to study the transition, the polyimide surface was investigated by atomic force microscopy, surface free energy measurement and angle-resolved analysis X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy before and after rubbing with a velvet fabric. It was found that both the change of surface polarity and surface morphology were not the reasons for the transition. The droop of the side chain on the polyimide surface after the rubbing treatment was detected by angle-resolved analysis X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy. Owing to the special structure of the novel polyimide, the X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy was successfully used for the first time to analyse the conformational change of the side chain of a polymer. In conclusion, the transition of nematic liquid crystal alignment from homeotropic to planar after rubbing was influenced by the side chain conformation of the polyimide.

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