Volume 80, Number 2, October 2007
Article Number 26001
Number of page(s) 5
Section Condensed Matter: Structural, Mechanical and Thermal Properties
Published online 21 September 2007
EPL, 80 (2007) 26001
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/80/26001

Lehmann effect in compensated cholesteric liquid crystals

A. Dequidt and P. Oswald

Laboratoire de Physique, École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, UMR 5672 of the CNRS - 46 Allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France

received 14 July 2007; accepted in final form 1 September 2007; published October 2007
published online 21 September 2007

In 1900, Otto Lehmann observed that the texture of a cholesteric droplet heated from below can rotate continuously (Ann. Phys. (Leipzig)2 (1900) 649). This observation (which has never been reproduced, to our knowledge) was explained in 1968 by Leslie (Proc. R. Soc. London, Ser. A307 (1968) 359) from symmetry arguments accounting for the chirality of the material. In 1982, Éber and Jánossy showed experimentally that a similar thermomechanical effect also exists in a compensated cholesteric (in which the helix is completely unwound). This result was immediately questioned by Pleiner and Brand who claimed that only the symmetry of the phase (and not that of the molecule) determines the structure of the macroscopic constitutive equations (Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. Lett.5 (1987) 61). According to them, the Lehmann effect should necessarily vanish at the compensation temperature. In order to understand the correct interpretation, we conducted very carefully the experiment in two complementary geometries. Our results agree with those of Éber and Jánossy, confirming the predominance of microscopic symmetries over macroscopic ones.

61.30.-v - Liquid crystals.
05.70.Ln - Nonequilibrium and irreversible thermodynamics.
65.40.De - Thermal expansion; thermomechanical effects.

© Europhysics Letters Association 2007