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Exotic Phases of Banana-Shaped Molecules

Banana shaped molecules, like the one shown in the
figure, like to pack into layers but when they do, they have a hard time making
flat ones.  Their layers have a
strong tendency to buckle up into saddles, and when the saddles try to fill
space interesting things happen. 
If the layers are crystal-like they can only form the twisted nanofilaments
in the top of the image.  If the
layers are fluid, like in a liquid crystal, then they form the "plumbers
nightmare" of nested tubes and connections, the "sponge phase",at the
bottom.  These exotic phases show
how even a simple molecular modification, like putting a bend in a molecule,
can make big changes in its material properties.