Unique Molecular Orientation in a Smectic Liquid Crystalline Polymer Film Attained by Surface-Initiated Graft Polymerization

Liquid crystalline (LC) polymer brushes containing a mesogenic azobenzene (Az) moiety are synthesized on a quartz or silicon substrate by surface-initiated atom transfer radical polymerization. The molecular orientation of the Az units and the LC properties in the grafted chains are evaluated by UV−vis spectroscopy, polarized optical microscopy, and grazing incidence X-ray diffraction measurements. The Az side chains of the grafted chains exhibited a smectic LC phase in which the smectic layers are oriented perpendicular to the substrate with a parallel orientation of the mesogens. In contrast, a spincast film of the identical LC polymer without grafting to the surface shows layer structures parallel to the substrate. A drastic effect of tethering one end to the substrate on the LC orientation is demonstrated.