Measurement of the azimuthal anchoring energy of liquid crystals in contact with oligo(ethylene glycol)-terminated self-assembled monolayers supported on obliquely deposited gold films

  • Clare B
  • Guzmán O
  • De Pablo J
 et al. 
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We report measurements of the orientations and azimuthal anchoring energies of the nematic liquid crystal 4-cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl (5CB) on polycrystalline gold films that are deposited from a vapor at an oblique angle of incidence and subsequently decorated with organized monolayers of oligomers of ethylene glycol. Whereas the gold films covered with monolayers presenting tetra(ethylene glycol) (EG4) lead to orientations of 5CB that are perpendicular to the plane of incidence of the gold, monolayers presenting tri(ethylene glycol) (EG3) direct 5CB to orient parallel to the plane of incidence of the gold during deposition of the gold film. We also measure the azimuthal anchoring energy of the 5CB to be smaller on the surfaces presenting EG3 (3.2 +/- 0.8 microJ/m2) as compared to EG4 (5.5 +/- 0.9 microJ/m2). These measurements, when combined with other results presented in this paper, are consistent with a physical model in which the orientation and anchoring energies of LCs on these surfaces are influenced by both (i) short-range interactions of 5CB with organized oligomers of ethylene glycol at these surfaces and (ii) long-range interactions of 5CB with the nanometer-scale topography of the obliquely deposited films. For surfaces presenting EG3, these short- and long-range interactions oppose each other, leading to small net values of anchoring energies that we predict are dependent on the level of order in the EG3 SAM. These measurements provide insights into the balance of interactions that control the orientational response of LCs to biological species (proteins, viruses, cells) on these surfaces.

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  • Brian H. Clare

  • Orlando Guzmán

  • Juan J. De Pablo

  • Nicholas L. Abbott

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