Polymer/liquid crystal composite films were prepared from a solution of polymer and nematic liquid crystal (LC) by a solvent casting method. The phase-separated structure of the composite film was controlled by the solvent evaporation rate. The light-scattering profile of a poly(diisopropyl fumarate)/LC: 40/60 w/w solution during solvent evaporation exhibited a periodic structure, indicating that the phase-separated structure was formed by spinodal decomposition. The aggregation structure of the composite film was investigated with a scanning electron microscope (SEM). SEM observation of the composite film suggested the presence of periodicity and dual connectivity of polymer and LC phases. The faster the solvent was evaporated, the smaller the LC channel (domain) size in the composite film. The composite film, composed of poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA) and a nematic LC (E44) with a positive dielectric anisotropy, exhibited remarkable and reversible light-scattering-light-transmission switching, under the modulation of an ac electric field. The light-scattering state was dependent on such optical heterogeneities as spatial distribution of the nematic directors and/or mismatching in the refractive indices of the components. The electrooptical behavior of the composite film was strongly dependent on the LC channel (domain) size in the composite film. The transmittance increased and the rise and decay response times (τrand τD), decreased and increased, respectively, with an increase in the size of the LC channel (domain). The electrooptical switching properties for the polymer/LC composite film should be influenced by miscibility between the polymer and the LC phases. The miscibility between both phases was evaluated from a distribution of relaxation time for interfacial polarization. The anchoring effect was also investigated by measuring the nonlinearity of the dielectric constant for the composite system.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ceramics and Composites
- Polymers and Plastics
- Materials Chemistry