Summary and Info
Mesogenic materials exhibit a multitude of transitions involving new phases. Studies of these phases are of importance in a wide range of scientic fields and as such have stimulated considerable theoretical and experimental eforts over the decades. This review article presents a comprehensive overview until this date of the developments in this subject. An attempt is made to identify the essential key concepts and points of dificulty associated with the study of phase transitions. The article begins with a brief introduction about the symmetry, structure and types of liquid crystalline phases. This is followed by a discussion of the distribution functions and order parameters which are considered as the basic knowledge essential for the study of ordered phases. A brief discussion of the thermodynamic properties at and in the vicinity of phase transitions,which are required to understand the molecular structure phase stability relationship, is given. The most widely used experimental techniques for measuring these transition properties are critically examined. The remaining parts of the article are concerned with the current status of the theoretical developments and experimental studies in this "eld. The application of the various theories to the description of isotropic liquid-uniaxial nematic, uniaxial nematic-smectic A, uniaxial nematic-biaxial nematic, smectic A-smecticC phase transitions are reviewed comprehensively. The basic ideas of Landau-de Gennes theory and its applications to study these transitions are discussed. Since the formation of liquid crystals depends on the anisotropy in the intermolecular interactions, questions concerning its role in the mesophase transitions are addressed. The hard particle, Maier-Saupe and van der Waals types of theories are reviewed. The applicationof density functional theory in studying mesophase transitions is described. A critical assessment of the experimental investigations concerning reentrant phase transitions in liquid crystals is made and the factors which impede its proper understanding are identified. A survey is given of existing computer simulation studies of the isotropic to nematic transition, the nematic to smectic A transition, the smectic A to hexatic SB transition, the smectic A to reentrant nematic transition, and transitions to the iscotic phase. The current status of the study of phase transitions involving hexatic smectic, cholesteric, polymeric and ferroelectric liquid crystals is outlined. Finally, a range of unexplored problems and some of the areas which are in greatest need of future attention are identified.