In this chapter we shall begin by describing the basic features that distinguish the liquid crystalline phases from the other condensed phases. The essential characteristic is the presence of orientational order of the non-spherical molecules, while in addition the positional order of the centres of mass is either absent (nematic phases) or reduced (smectic and columnar phases). Next the types of molecules leading to these phases are discussed, and typical examples will be given. Finally we shall review some of the experimental methods that are commonly used to test the liquid crystalline properties of a compound.
KeywordsCholesterol Anisotropy Calorimetry Aniline Cyclohexane
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