L. E. Hough, H. T. Jung, D. Krüerke, M. S. Heberling, M. Nakata, C. D. Jones, D. Chen, D. R. Link, J. Zasadzinski, G. Heppke, J. P. Rabe, W. Stocker, E. Körblova, D. M. Walba, M. A. Glaser, N. A. Clark. Science 24 Jul 2009: Vol. 325, Issue 5939, pp. 456-460 DOI: 10.1126/science.1170027
In the formation of chiral crystals, the tendency for twist in the orientation of neighboring molecules is incompatible with ordering into a lattice: Twist is expelled from planar layers at the expense of local strain. We report the ordered state of a neat material in which a local chiral structure is expressed as twisted layers, a state made possible by spatial limitation of layering to a periodic array of nanoscale filaments. Although made of achiral molecules, the layers in these filaments are twisted and rigorously homochiral—a broken symmetry. The precise structural definition achieved in filament self-assembly enables collective organization into arrays in which an additional broken symmetry—the appearance of macroscopic coherence of the filament twist—produces a liquid crystal phase of helically precessing layers.