Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals, Vol.373, 155-180, 2002
Polymer-dispersed liquid crystals: Effect of partial matrix fluorination on polymer bead-based morphology
The morphology and electrooptical properties of polymer-dispersed liquid crystals (PDLCs) with partially fluorinated polymer matrices are investigated. Films were prepared via photoinduced free-radical polymerization of an initially isotropic solution comprised of pentafunctional (5 reactive groups) acrylate monomer and nematic liquid crystal molecules. Phase separation of discrete domains of LC is induced by the photopolymerization. The film morphologies consisted of aggregated polymeric particles dispersed throughout a continuous liquid crystal medium. Changes in morphology and electrooptical properties were observed as trifluoroethyl and hexafluoroisopropyl methacrylate were partially substituted for the multifunctional acrylate monomer. Methyl methacrylate was used in control films due to the chemical similarities to fluorinated monomers. The incorporation of fluorinated monomers resulted in better definition of the polymer bead morphology and improvement in contrast ratio, while control films displayed less pronounced changes in optical properties. Real-time transmittance monitoring and polarized optical microscopy (POM) revealed that the monofunctional monomer addition resulted in a delay of the LC phase appearance with increasing comoaomer concentration. However, a LC phase appeared earlier for fluorinated systems as compared to nonfluorinated control films of similar comonomer concentration. This was interpreted as an indication of lower LC solubility in the semifluorinated polymer matrix.