Application of polarized Raman spectroscopy for analysis of phase transitions and anisotropic behavior of soft condensed matter
Park, Min Sang
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The importance of soft matter research, as a major class of materials including liquid crystals, polymers, colloids, emulsions, and forms, is attributed to the behavior resemblances in each branch of soft matter responding to the external perturbations. Hence, one of the most required inquiries in soft matter physics is understanding how the structures with characteristic length scales evolve in response to external perturbations, and concomitant phase transitions. We have focused on adopting polarized Raman spectroscopy to probe phase transitions in soft materials consisting of anisometric components and the evolution of molecular orientational ordering as a complementary tool to other methodologies, but distinct in some respects. The primary task is quantifying the degree of molecular orientation, i.e., obtaining orientational order parameters, in liquid crystal (LCs) system. Thermal evolution of orientation degree in a hitherto elusive biaxial nematic (Nb) phase as well as a commonly known uniaxial nematic (Nu) phase were interrogated from the measurements of anisotropy in polarized Raman intensities. We demonstrated reliable and applicable method to quantify the orientation degree for systems possessing anisotropic ordering. We also addressed a strong potential of Raman spectroscopy that the changes of vibrational energy reflect the variations of intermolecular interactions and structural changes on the molecular level induced by phase transitions. As a subfield of soft matter, we characterized phase transitions and anisotropic ordering observed in an evaporating conjugated polymer solution and elucidated the mechanism of the entities undergoing phase transitions using mainly polarized Raman spectroscopy. In addition, we have shown that tracking Raman spectral changes can provide valuable information for understanding structure-property relations when the measurements of the evolution in physical properties are carried out simultaneously.