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Title: Emergent Optical Phononic Modes upon Nanoscale Mesogenic Phase Transitions

The investigation of phononic collective excitations in soft matter systems at the molecular scale has always been challenging due to limitations of experimental techniques in resolving low-energy modes. Recent advances in inelastic X-ray scattering (IXS) enabled the study of such systems with unprecedented spectral contrast at meV excitation energies. In particular, it has become possible to shed light on the low-energy collective motions in materials whose morphology and phase behavior can easily be manipulated, such as mesogenic systems. The understanding of collective mode behavior with a Q-dependence is the key to implement heat management based on the control of a sample structure. The latter has great potential for a large number of energy-inspired innovations. As a first step toward this goal, we carried out high contrast IXS measurements on a liquid crystal sample, D7AOB, which exhibits solid-like dynamic features, such as the coexistence of longitudinal and transverse phononic modes. For the first time, we found that these terahertz phononic excitations persist in the crystal, smectic A, and isotropic phases. Furthermore, the intermediate smectic A phase is shown to support a van der Waals-mediated nonhydrodynamic mode with an optical-like phononic behavior. In conclusion, the tunability of the collective excitations at nanometer–terahertzmore » scales via selection of the sample mesogenic phase represents a new opportunity to manipulate optomechanical properties of soft metamaterials.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Brookhaven National Lab. (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
  2. Kent State Univ., Kent, OH (United States)
  3. Kent State Univ., Kent, OH (United States); Univ. at Albany, Albany, NY (United States)
Publication Date:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 1530-6984
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nano Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 17; Journal Issue: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 1530-6984
American Chemical Society
Research Org:
Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Upton, NY (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; acoustic phononic gaps; mesogen dynamics; Nanoacoustics; optical phonons; soft metamaterials; THz light-phonon coupling
OSTI Identifier: