Published by the American Physical Society through the American Institute of Physics
Physical Review E, Statistical, Nonlinear and Soft Matter Physics vol:82 issue:3
A detailed study has been performed for mixtures of octyloxycyanobiphenyl (8OCB) and nonyloxycyanobiphenyl (9OCB) liquid crystals and nine of their mixtures by means of high-resolution adiabatic scanning calorimetry. The isotropic to nematic transitions are weakly first order with latent heat values in the range usually encountered for this transition in other liquid crystals. With the exception of pure 8OCB, for which only an upper limit of 1.8 J kg(-1) for the latent heat could be established, finite latent heats have been obtained for the nematic to smectic-A transition of all the mixtures and of pure 9OCB. The concentration dependence of their latent heats could be well fitted with a crossover function consistent with a mean-field free-energy expression that has a nonzero cubic term induced by the Halperin-Lubensky-Ma (HLM) coupling between the smectic-A order parameter and the orientational director fluctuations. Clearly first-order transitions with measurable latent heats are found for mole fractions of 9OCB in the mixtures where the effective critical exponent for the specific-heat capacity has substantially lower values than the tricritical one (0.5). This is qualitatively different from what has been observed so far in other liquid-crystal systems and yields strong experimental evidence from a calorimetric experiment for the HLM coupling between the smectic-A order parameter and the director orientation fluctuations.