Single crystal texture by directed molecular self-assembly along dual axes.


Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. [Email]


Creating well-defined single-crystal textures in materials requires the biaxial alignment of all grains into desired orientations, which is challenging to achieve in soft materials. Here we report the formation of single crystals with rigorously controlled texture over macroscopic areas (>1 cm2) in a soft mesophase of a columnar discotic liquid crystal. We use two modes of directed self-assembly, physical confinement and magnetic fields, to achieve control of the orientations of the columnar axes and the hexagonal lattice along orthogonal directions. Field control of the lattice orientation emerges in a low-temperature phase of tilted discogens that breaks the field degeneracy around the columnar axis present in non-tilted states. Conversely, column orientation is controlled by physical confinement and the resulting imposition of homeotropic anchoring at bounding surfaces. These results extend our understanding of molecular organization in tilted systems and may enable the development of a range of new materials for distinct applications.