Conventional (polymer/liquid crystal) composite films exhibit the normal mode electro-optical switching, that is, the light scattering-light transmission switching upon electric field OFF-ON states, respectively. The “reverse mode” electro-optical switching, that is, the light transmission-light scattering switching upon electric field OFF-ON states, respectively, has been investigated for a novel type of composite system being composed of a side chain type liquid crystalline polymer(LCP) and low molecular weight liquid crystals(LCs). The polarizing optical microscopic observation and X-ray diffraction study revealed that the two types of smectic-like short range ordering were present in the (LCP/LCs) composite system in a nematic state. It was confirmed from electric capacitance measurements of the homogeneous alignment cell that these phases with different smectic-like short range orderings each exhibited a different value of threshold voltage. Although the homogeneous alignment cell of the (LCP/LCs) composite system was in a light transmitting state in the absence of an electric voltage, the cell turned into a light scattering state upon the application of an electric voltage of 5-15 V for the cell of 14 µm thick (0.4−1.1 MV" m−1). The reversible change from the light scattering state to the transmission state was observed after removing the electric voltage. The light scattering state of the (LCP/LCs) composite system upon the application of electric voltage might be due to the appearance of optically heterogeneous structure induced by the different values of the threshold voltage between the two types of smectic-like phases with different short range orderings. These phases might be in a phase-separated state with an optical dimension (several hundred nm). The reversible “reverse mode” electro-optical switching was realized for the (LCP/LCs) composite system in a nematic state in which the two types of smectic-like short range orderings were separately formed in an optical size level.
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