Lyotropic liquid crystal

Lyotropic liquid crystal

A liquid crystalline material is called lyotropic if phases having long-ranged orientational order are induced by the addition of a solvent. Historically the term was used to describe materials composed of amphiphilic molecules. Such molecules comprise a water-loving 'hydrophilic' head-group (which may be ionic or non-ionic) attached to a water-hating 'hydrophobic' group. Typical hydrophobic groups are saturated or unsaturated hydrocarbon chains. Examples of amphiphilic compounds are the salts of fatty acids, phospholipids. Many simple amphiphiles are used as detergents.

Amphiphile Self-Assembly

Amphiphilic molecules form aggregates through a self-assembly process that is driven by the 'hydrophobic effect' when they are mixed with a solvent, which is usually water. The aggregates formed by amphiphilic molecules are characterised by structures in which the hydrophilic head-groups shield the hydrophobic chains from contact with water. For most lyotropic systems aggregation occurs only when the concentration of the amphiphile exceeds a critical concentration (known variously as the 'critical micellar concentration (CMC)' or the 'critical aggregation concentration (CAC)'. Micellar solutions are often denoted by the symbol L1.

Above the CMC (or CAC) the self-assembled amphiphile aggregates exist as independent entities, in equilibrium with monomeric amphiphiles in solution, and with no long ranged orientational or positional (translational) order. These dispersions are generally referred to as 'micellar solutions', the constituent aggregates being known as 'micelles', and are 'isotropic' phases (i.e. not liquid crystalline). True lyotropic liquid crystalline phases are formed as the concentration of amphiphile in water is increased beyond the point where the micellar aggregates are forced to be disposed regularly in space. For amphiphiles that consist of a single hydrocarbon chain the concentration at which the first liquid crystalline phases are formed is typically in the range 25-30 wt%.

Liquid Crystalline Phases and Composition/Temperature

The simplest liquid crystalline phase that is formed by spherical micelles is the 'micellar cubic', denoted by the symbol I1. This is a highly viscous, optically isotropic phase in which the micelles are arranges on a cubic lattice. At higher amphiphile concentrations the micelles fuse to form cylindrical aggregates of indefinite length, and these cylinders are arranged on a long-ranged hexagonal lattice. This lyotropic liquid crystalline phase is known as the 'hexagonal phase', or more specifically the 'normal topology' hexagonal phase and is generally denoted by the symbol HI. At higher concentrations of amphiphile the 'lamellar phase' is formed. This phase is denoted by the symbol Lα. This phase is comprised of amphiphilic molecules arranged in bilayer sheers separated by layers of water. Each bilayer is a prototype of the arrangement of lipids in cell membranes. For most amphiphiles that consist of a single hydrocarbon chain, one or more phases having complex architectures are formed at concentrations that are intermediate between those required to form a hexagonal phase and those that lead to the formation of a lamellar phase. Often this intermediate phase is a bicontinuous cubic phase.

In principle, increasing the amphiphile concentration beyond the point where lamellar phases are formed would lead to the formation of the inverse topology lyotropic phases, namely the inverse cubic phases, the inverse hexagonal phase (HII) and the inverse micellar cubic phase. In practice inverse topology phases are more readily formed by amphiphiles that have at least two hyrocarbon chains attached to a headgroup. The most abundant phospholipids that are found in cell membranes of mammalian cells are examples of amphiphiles that readily form inverse topology lyotropic phases.



Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Liquid crystal polymer — Liquid crystal polymers (LCPs) are a class of aromatic polyester polymers. They are extremely unreactive and inert, and highly resistant to fire.BackgroundLiquid crystallinity in polymers may occur either by solving a polymer in a solvent… …   Wikipedia

  • Liquid crystal — Schlieren texture of liquid crystal nematic phase Liquid crystals (LCs) are a state of matter that have properties between those of a conventional liquid and those of a solid crystal.[1] For instance, an LC may flow like a liquid, but its… …   Wikipedia

  • Lyotropic — A material is called lyotropic if it forms liquid crystal phases because of the addition of a solvent. Historically the term was used to describe materials composed of amphiphilic molecules. Such molecules comprise a water loving hydrophilic head …   Wikipedia

  • lyotropic — adjective describing a liquid crystal that exhibits phase transitions as a function of concentration …   Wiktionary

  • lyotropic — SYN: lyophilic. [lyo + G. trope, a turning] * * * lyo·tro·pic .lī ə trō pik, träp ik adj of, relating to, or being a liquid crystal that is prepared by mixing two substances of which one (as water) is polar in nature and that may assume a series… …   Medical dictionary

  • Water-in-water emulsion — An emulsion is two immiscible liquids mixed together (by shaking for example) with small droplets of one liquid dispersed (separated and distributed throughout the space) in the other liquid. This dispersion is usually not stable and all the… …   Wikipedia

  • Micellar cubic — A micellar cubic phase is a lyotropic liquid crystal phase formed when the concentration of micelles dispersed in a solvent (usually water) is sufficiently high that they are forced to pack into a structure having long ranged positional… …   Wikipedia

  • Lipid polymorphism — Polymorphism in biophysics is the aspect of the behaviour of lipids that influences their long range order, i.e. how they aggregate. This can be in the form of spheres of lipid molecules (micelles), pairs of layers that face one another (lamellar …   Wikipedia

  • Micellar solutions — A micellar solution consists of a dispersion of micelles in a solvent (most usually water). Micelles consist of aggregated amphiphiles, and in a micellar solution these are in equilibrium with free, unaggregated amphiphiles. Micellar solutions… …   Wikipedia

  • Hexagonal phase — A hexagonal phase of lyotropic liquid crystal is formed by some amphiphilic molecules when they are mixed with water or another polar solvent. In this phase the amphiphile molecules are aggregated into cylindrical structures of indefinite length… …   Wikipedia