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Issue 28, 2017
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Formation and field-driven dynamics of nematic spheroids

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Unlike the canonical application of liquid crystals (LCs), LC displays, emerging technologies based on LC materials are increasingly leveraging the presence of nanoscale defects. The inherent nanoscale characteristics of LC defects present both significant opportunities as well as barriers for the application of this fascinating class of materials. Simulation-based approaches to the study of the effects of confinement and interface anchoring conditions on LC domains has resulted in significant progress over the past decade, where simulations are now able to access experimentally-relevant length scales while simultaneously capturing nanoscale defect structures. In this work, continuum simulations were performed in order to study the dynamics of micron-scale nematic LC spheroids of varying shape. Nematic spheroids are one of the simplest inherently defect-containing LC structures and are relevant to polymer-dispersed LC-based “smart” window technology. Simulation results include nematic phase formation and external field-switching dynamics of nematic spheroids ranging in shape from oblate to prolate. Results include both qualitative and quantitative insight into the complex coupling of nanoscale defect dynamics and structure transitions to micron-scale reorientation. Dynamic mechanisms are presented and related to structural transitions in LC defects present in the nematic domain. Domain-averaged metrics including order parameters and response times are determined for a range of experimentally-accessible electric field strengths. These results have both fundamental and technological relevance, in that increased understanding of LC dynamics in the presence of defects is a key barrier to continued advancement in the field.

Graphical abstract: Formation and field-driven dynamics of nematic spheroids

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Publication details

The article was received on 08 Mar 2017, accepted on 14 Jun 2017 and first published on 15 Jun 2017

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00484B
Citation: Soft Matter, 2017,13, 4890-4902
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    Formation and field-driven dynamics of nematic spheroids

    F. Fu and N. M. Abukhdeir, Soft Matter, 2017, 13, 4890
    DOI: 10.1039/C7SM00484B

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