We describe the rheological, dielectric and elastic properties of a nematic liquid crystal gel created using an anthrylidene derivative of arjunolic acid, a chiral triterpenoid, obtained from the extracts of the wood of Terminalia arjuna. In this novel gel, having the electron-donor and acceptor components as minority constituents, the gelation and strengthening of charge-transfer complex (CTC) formation are seen to be occurring concomitantly. In addition to being mechanically strong with a large storage modulus, the gel with the maximized CTC exhibits Frank bend elastic constant values that approach nanonewton levels. The highlight of the study is the observation of 4–5 orders of magnitude increase in electrical conductivity for this gel, a value that is higher than even in the CT complexes of 2-d ordered columnar structures. A further important advantage of the present system over the columnar complex is that the high conductivity is seen for ac probing also, and owing to the nematic nature can be switched between its anisotropic limits. Some of these features are ascribed to a specific molecular packing architecture, which reduces the trapping of the charge carriers.

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See supplementary material at http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.4898757 for molecular structures of the electron donor and acceptor compounds, the composition of the mixtures employed in the study, and a comparison between the experimentally obtained phase diagram and that predicted by a theory.

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