Liquid Crystals, 2018, vol 45, 2, pp. 219-229
Lyotropic quaternary mixtures of potassium alkanoates (KCx) and sodium alkyl sulphates (NaCxS), where x is the number of carbon atoms in their alkyl chains, were prepared to investigate the effect of the surfactant alkyl chain length on the stabilisation of lyotropic nematic phases. The lyotropic mixtures investigated were formed by the dissolution of KCx (NaCxS) surfactants in the mixture of Rb2SO4/1-decanol/water (Na2SO4/1-decanol/water), separately. The uniaxial-to-biaxial nematic phase transitions were identified from the temperature dependence of the birefringences of the nematic phases by means of laser conoscopy. The micelle dimensions were obtained from small-angle X-ray scattering measurements. It was observed that the increase in the surfactant alkyl chain length causes the micellar growth in the plane perpendicular to the main amphiphile bilayer. The surfactant alkyl chain length plays a key role on the shape anisotropy of micelles, which triggers the orientational fluctuations that are responsible for the stabilisation of the different lyotropic nematic phases.