The thermal transitions in cholesteryl palmitate, an ester having liquid-crystalline states, have been evaluated and compared to previously reported data. A sample synthesized from carefully purified cholesterol and palmitic acid using p-toluene sulfonic acid compared directly with previously reported data. A sample of recrystallized ester from a commercial source showed a slightly depressed solid-to-mesophase transition temperature. However, the mesophase proved to be smectic, commonly reported as monotropic with respect to the solid phase. Both smectic-to-cholesteric and cholesteric-to-isotropic-liquid transitions were sharp, indicating a pure material. It is postulated that a specific impurity, possibly an isomeric cholesterol ester, is responsible for this previously unreported effect. This effect of related compound interaction has been reported for nematic-mesophase-forming compounds. Thin layer chromatography, microscopy, depolarized light intensity analysis, differential scanning calorimetry and NMR spectroscopy data are offered in support of this postulate.
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