We report on the thin-film behaviour of a polyacrylate with phenyl benzoate mesogenic side groups and a narrow polydispersity. Depending on the degree of polymerisation, these polymers show a nematic, a smectic-Ad, a re-entrant nematic and a ~C phase with a two-dimensional monoclinic lattice. X-ray reflectivity and atomic-force microscopy have been used to characterize the structure and surface morphology. The system exhibits two stable side-chain packing configurations with incommensurate spacings that can be both stabilized at a free surface. Thin films in the nematic phase show a structural dewetting induced by the growth of surface domains of the ~C phase. Additionally, surface-induced ripples with a nanoscale lateral period form at the air-film interface. We attribute these patterns to a coupling between the local liquid crystalline ordering of the mesogenic side groups and the surface curvature energy.

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Journal Eur. Phys. J. E
Ostrovskii, B. I, Sentenac, D, Samoilenko, I. I, & de Jeu, W. H. (2001). Structure and frustration in liquid crystalline polyacrylates: II. Thin -film properties. Eur. Phys. J. E, 6, 287–294.