Aqueous dispersions of exfoliated, bile-salt stabilized single-wall carbon nanotubes exhibit a first order transition to a nematic liquid-crystalline phase. The nematic phase presents itself in the form of micron-sized nematic droplets also known as tactoids, freely floating in the isotropic host dispersion. The nematic droplets are spindle shaped and have an aspect ratio of about four, irrespective of their size. We attribute this to a director field that is uniform rather than bipolar, which is confirmed by polarization microscopy. It follows that the ratio of the anchoring strength and the surface tension must be about four, which is quite larger than predicted theoretically but in line with earlier observations of bipolar tactoids. From the scatter in the data we deduce that the surface tension of the coexisting isotropic and nematic phases must be extremely low, that is, of the order of nN/m.
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Physical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 2010|