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Polymers 2010, 2(4), 766-785; doi:10.3390/polym2040766
Article

Modeling Textural Processes during Self-Assembly of Plant-Based Chiral-Nematic Liquid Crystals

 and *
Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, 3610, University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A 2B2, Canada
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 11 October 2010 / Revised: 22 November 2010 / Accepted: 29 November 2010 / Published: 15 December 2010
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Natural Polymers)
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Abstract

Biological liquid crystalline polymers are found in cellulosic, chitin, and DNA based natural materials. Chiral nematic liquid crystalline orientational order is observed frozen-in in the solid state in plant cell walls and is known as a liquid crystal analogue characterized by a helicoidal plywood architecture. The emergence of the plywood architecture by directed chiral nematic liquid crystalline self assembly has been postulated as the mechanism that leads to optimal cellulose fibril organization. In natural systems, tissue growth and development takes place in the presence of inclusions and secondary phases leaving behind characteristic defects and textures, which provide a unique testing ground for the validity of the liquid crystal self-assembly postulate. In this work, a mathematical model, based on the Landau-de Gennes theory of liquid crystals, is used to simulate defect textures arising in the domain of self assembly, due to presence of secondary phases representing plant cells, lumens and pit canals. It is shown that the obtained defect patterns observed in some plant cell walls are those expected from a truly liquid crystalline phase. The analysis reveals the nature and magnitude of the viscoelastic material parameters that lead to observed patterns in plant-based helicoids through directed self-assembly. In addition, the results provide new guidance to develop biomimetic plywoods for structural and functional applications.
Keywords: biological liquid crystalline polymers; helicoidal plywoods; chiral nematic liquid crystalline self assembly biological liquid crystalline polymers; helicoidal plywoods; chiral nematic liquid crystalline self assembly
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Murugesan, Y.K.; Rey, A.D. Modeling Textural Processes during Self-Assembly of Plant-Based Chiral-Nematic Liquid Crystals. Polymers 2010, 2, 766-785.

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