Only six years ago, the first clear-cut example of a ferroelectric, lyotropic liquid crystal was discovered. Since then, ongoing investigations in this new research field provided numerous instances of the missing pieces to complete the formerly blank picture of the lyotropic smectic C* (SmC*) phase. In this review we wanted to combine these new results and put them into a wider historical and scientific context. We start by giving an introduction about characteristic features of the well-known thermotropic SmC* phase and why it is so difficult to find a lyotropic equivalent of this fascinating phase. After discussing early examples of achiral lyotropic and swollen SmC phases, we recap the discovery of the first lyotropic SmC* phase. The molecular features necessary for its formation and its properties are analyzed. We place special emphasis on discussing the long-range orientational order of the tilt direction and the corresponding chirality effects. By comparing these exceptional features with thermotropic and swollen SmC* phases, we aim to improve not only the understanding of the lyotropic SmC* phase, but also of the relationship between thermotropic and lyotropic systems in general.
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