Trying to identify phases can be frustrating, especially when you leave the comfort zone of materials you have a solid understanding of. This happened to us recently as we moved more into the area of calamitic (rod-shaped) molecules. These molecules form a variety of liquid crystals, the most common ones being nematic, smectic A and smectic C phases. These are relatively easy to identify, as they exhibit a range of standard textures. We were working with molecules that had been reported to form either smectic B or smectic G phases. After extensive microscopy and x-ray diffraction studies, we concluded that the literature reports were wrong; the molecules form smectic F phases. I will go into more details on this over the next few posts, but for the time being, here is one of the textures that lead us to this conclusion.