Phase structures and transformation mechanisms of nonracemic chiral biological and synthetic polymers are fundamentally important topics in understanding their macroscopic responses in different environments. It has been known for many years that helical structures and morphologies can exist in low-ordered chiral liquid crystalline (LC) phases. However, when the chiral liquid crystals form highly ordered smectic liquid crystal phases, the helical morphology is suppressed due to the crystallization process. A double-twisted morphology has been observed in many liquid crystalline biopolymers such as dinoflaggellate chromosomes (in Prorocentrum micans) in an in vivo arrangement. Helical crystals grown from solution have been reported in the case of Bombyx mori silk fibroin crystals having the β modification. This study describes a synthetic nonracemic chiral main-chain LC polyester that is able to thermotropically form helical single lamellar crystals. Flat single lamellar crystals can also be observed under the same crystallization condition. Moreover, flat and helical lamellae can coexist in one single lamellar crystal, within which one form can smoothly transform to the other. Both of these crystals possess the same structure, although translational symmetry is broken in the helical crystals. The polymer chain folding direction in both flat and helical lamellar crystals is determined to be identical, and it is always along the long axis of the lamellae. This finding provides an opportunity to study the chirality effect on phase structure, morphology, and transformation in condensed states of chiral materials.
- Received 25 March 1999
©1999 American Physical Society