• liquid crystals;
  • mechanical properties;
  • polymers;
  • solute effects;
  • triphenylene


After a short review on the physics of pulled threads and their mechanical properties, the paper reports and discusses the strand elongation of disordered columnar phases, hexagonal or lamella-columnar, of small molecules or polymers. The mechanical properties appear to be relevant to the length of the columns of molecules compared to the thread length, instead of the usual correlation length. If, taking the entanglement effect into account, the column length is short, the strand exhibits rather fluid-like properties that may even look nematic-like at the macroscopic scale. The Plateau–Rayleigh instability breaks the thread shortly thereafter. However, because the hydrodynamic objects are the columns instead of the molecules, the viscosity is anomalously large. The observations show that the strands in the columnar phases are made of filaments, or fibrils, which are bundles of columns of molecules. This explains the grooves and rings, which are observed on the antenna or bamboo-like strand profiles. On pulling a strand, the elongation stress eventually exceeds the plasticity threshold, thus breaking the columns and the filaments. As a result, cracks, more exactly, giant dislocations are formed. These change the strand thickness by steps of different birefringence colors. Interestingly, the addition of a solute may drastically change the effective viscosity of the columnar phase and its mechanical properties. Some solutes, such as alkanes, exhibit lubricant and detangling properties, whereas others such as triphenylene, are antilubricant.