Any expository account of liquid crystals would invariably commence by saying that they constitute a state of matter that is intermediate between crystals and liquids. Their apparently contradictory appellation conveys well their being mesophases, that is, their participating in properties of two worlds. Macroscopically, they exhibit optical birefringence, a property typical of crystals, while retaining their ability to flow, which characterizes fluids. Microscopically, the tendency of liquid crystals to mediate between diversities is ascribed to the anisotropy of their molecules. In this introductory chapter, we present the microscopic basis for our development, which will mostly be macroscopic. We explore the microscopic origin of the ordering transition that gives rise to nematic liquid crystals. This discussion will ultimately serve to identify the most appropriate macroscopic order parameters for nematic liquid crystals, both in the uniaxial and biaxial phases.
KeywordsLiquid Crystal Nematic Liquid Crystal Order Tensor Molecular Theory Liquid Crystal Molecule
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