An X-ray scattering study of flow-aligned samples of a lyotropic liquid-crystalline hexagonal phase

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Large flow-aligned samples of the hexagonal mesophase of the (sodium dodecylsulfate, pentanol, water) ternary system were produced by merely sucking the material into flat glass capillaries. These samples were examined by polarized light microscopy and X-ray scattering. In the plane of the hexagonal lattice, the “\(\)-mosaic” is only \(\) because the dense (10) hexagonal planes lie parallel to the flat glass plates of the capillaries. In contrast, the “\(\)-mosaic” of the C6 axis reaches 5-10\(\) because the samples undergo a thermomechanical instability of the columns already investigated by Oswald et al. in detail on the (C12EO6, H2O) system. Anisotropic thermal diffuse scattering is observed around the Bragg peaks and its description in the frame of an elastic continuum model provides estimates of the elastic constants. On heating the samples, we observed a clear splitting of four of the (10) hexagonal lattice reflections. This splitting is the defining signature of the thermomechanical instability by which the columns form zig-zags. The fact that two of the (10) reflections are not affected by the instability demonstrates that it is confined to the plane of the capillary. The influence of temperature on the thermomechanical instability was also studied in detail.