Molecular dynamics simulation of thermotropic bolaamphiphiles with a swallow-tail lateral chain: formation of cubic network phases

YY Sun and P Padmanabhan and M Misra and FA Escobedo, SOFT MATTER, 13, 8542-8555 (2017).

DOI: 10.1039/c7sm01819c

T-shaped bolaamphiphiles (TBA) with a swallow-tail lateral chain have been found to provide a fertile platform to produce complex liquid crystalline phases that are accessible through changes of temperature and lateral chain length and design. In this work, we use molecular simulations of a simple coarse-grained model to map out the phase behavior of this type of molecules. This model is based on the premise that the crucial details of the fluid structure stem from close range repulsions and the strong directional forces typical of hydrogen bonds. Our simulations confirm that TBAs exhibit a rich phase behavior upon increasing the length of their lateral chain. The simulations detect a double gyroid phase and an axial-bundle columnar phase which bear some structural resemblance to those found in the experiment. In addition, simulations predict two cocontinuous phases with 3D-periodicity: the "single'' diamond and the "single'' plumber's nightmare phase. Our analysis of energetic and entropic contributions to the free energy of phases formed by TBA with either swallow-tail or linear side-chains suggest that the 3D-periodic network phases formed by the former are stabilized by the large conformation entropy of the side-chains.

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