Retaining hexagonal lyotropic liquid crystal (LLC) structures in polymers after surfactant removal and drying is particularly challenging, as the surface tension existing during the drying processes tends to change the morphology. In this study, cross-linked poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) hydrogels were prepared in LLC hexagonal phases formed from a dodecyltrimethylammonium bromide (DTAB)/water system. The retention of the hexagonal LLC structures was examined by controlling the surface tension. Polarized light microscopy, X-ray diffraction and small angle X-ray scattering results indicate that the hexagonal LLC structure was successfully formed before polymerization and well retained after polymerization and after surfactant removal when the surface tension forces remained neutral. Controlling the surface tension during the drying process can retain the nanostructures templated from lyotropic liquid crystals which will result in the formation of materials with desired nanostructures.
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