Recent optical kerr effect (OKE) studies have revealed that orientational relaxation of rodlike nematogens near the isotropic-nematic (I-N) phase boundary and also in the nematic phase exhibit temporal power law decay at intermediate times. Such behaviour has drawn an intriguing analogy with supercooled liquids. Here, we have investigated the single-particle and collective orientational dynamics of a family of model system of thermotropic liquid crystals using extensive computer simulations. Several remarkable features of glassy dynamics are on display including non-exponential relaxation, dynamical heterogeneity, and non-Arrhenius temperature dependence of the orientational relaxation time. Over a temperature range near the I-N phase boundary, the system behaves like a fragile glass-forming liquid. Using proper scaling, we construct the usual relaxation time versus inverse temperature plot and explicitly demonstrate that one can successfully define a density dependent fragility of liquid crystals. The fragility of liquid crystals shows a temperature and density dependence which is remarkably similar to the fragility of glass forming supercooled liquids. Energy landscape analysis of inherent structures shows that the breakdown of the Arrhenius temperature dependence of relaxation rate occurs at a temperature that marks the onset of the growth of the depth of the potential energy minima explored by the system.
Volume 135, 2023
Continuous Article Publishing mode
Click here for Editorial Note on CAP Mode