Development of Structural Complexity by Liquid-Crystal Self-assembly



Since the discovery of the liquid-crystalline state of matter 125 years ago, this field has developed into a scientific area with many facets. This Review presents recent developments in the molecular design and self-assembly of liquid crystals. The focus is on new exciting soft-matter structures distinct from the usually observed nematic, smectic, and columnar phases. These new structures have enhanced complexity, including multicompartment and cellular structures, periodic and quasiperiodic arrays of spheres, and new emergent properties, such as ferroelctricity and spontaneous achiral symmetry-breaking. Comparisons are made with developments in related fields, such as self-assembled monolayers, multiblock copolymers, and nanoparticle arrays. Measures of structural complexity used herein are the size of the lattice, the number of distinct compartments, the dimensionality, and the logic depth of the resulting supramolecular structures.