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We report on strong pretransitional effects across the isotropic liquid-plastic crystal melting temperature in linear and nonlinear dielectric response. Studies were carried out for cyclooctanol (C8H16O) in the unprecedented range of temperatures 120 K < T < 345 K. Such pretransitional effects have not yet been reported in any plastic crystals. Results include the discovery of the experimental manifestation of the Mossotti Catastrophe behavior, so far considered only as a hypothetical paradox. The model interpretations of experimental findings are proposed. We compare the observed pretransitional behavior with the one observed in octyloxycyanobiphenyl (8OCB), typical liquid crystal (LC), displaying a reversed sequence of phase transitions in orientational and translational degrees of order on varying temperature. Furthermore, in its nematic phase, we demonstrate first-ever observed temperature-driven crossover between regions dominated by isotropic liquid and smectic A pretransitional fluctuations. We propose a pioneering minimal model describing plastic crystal phase behavior where we mimic derivation of classical Landau-de Gennes-Ginzburg modeling of Isotropic-Nematic-Smectic A LC phase behavior.


Aleksandra Drozd-Rzoska, Szymon Starzonek, Sylwester J Rzoska, Joanna Łoś, Zdravko Kutnjak, Samo Kralj. Pretransitional Effects of the Isotropic Liquid-Plastic Crystal Transition. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 2021 Jan 15;26(2)

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PMID: 33467518

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