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Gearing of Molecular Swirls: Columnar Packing of Nematogenic Hexakis(4-alkoxyphenylethynyl)benzene Derivatives



Through molecular design and straightforward synthesis, incorporating an additional alkoxy chain onto various numbers of peripheral phenyls in nematogenic hexakis(4-alkoxyphenylethynyl)benzene was achieved to generate columnar phases with significantly expanded temperature ranges. For the compound with two decyloxy chains on every peripheral phenyl, scanning tunnelling microscopic studies indicate the molecule adopts a preferred molecular-swirl geometry by restricting the conformational arrangement of the alkoxy side chains. Cooperative packing of the molecular swirls by a lock-in mechanism among columns results in a stable helical column packing evidenced by powder X-ray diffraction.