Date: 22 Jun 2012

Lyotropic mixture made of potassium laurate/1-undecanol/K2SO4/water presenting high birefringences and large biaxial nematic phase domain: a laser conoscopy study

Abstract

The lyotropic liquid crystalline quaternary mixture made of potassium laurate (KL), potassium sulphate, 1-undecanol and water was investigated by experimental optical methods (optical microscopy and laser conoscopy). In a particular temperature and relative concentrations range, the three nematic phases (two uniaxial and one biaxial) were identified. The biaxial domain in the temperature/KL concentration surface is larger when compared to other lyotropic mixtures. Moreover, this new mixture gives nematic phases with higher birefringence than similar systems. The behavior of the symmetric tensor order parameter invariants σ 3 and σ 2 calculated from the measured optical birefringences supports that the uniaxial-to-biaxial transitions are of second order, described by a mean-field theory.