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Issue 34, 2013
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Nematic order on a deformable vesicle: theory and simulation

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In membranes with nematic liquid-crystalline order, there is a geometric coupling between the nematic director and the shape: nonuniformity in the director induces curvature, and curvature provides an effective potential acting on the director. For a closed vesicle, there must be a total topological charge of +2, which normally occurs as four defects of charge +1/2 each. Previous research has suggested that these four defects will form a regular tetrahedron, leading to a tetrahedral shape of the vesicle, which may be useful in designing colloidal particles for photonic applications. Here, we use three approaches to investigate the behavior of a nematic vesicle: particle-based simulation, spherical harmonic expansion, and finite-element modeling. When liquid crystal has a purely 2D intrinsic interaction, we find that the perfect tetrahedral shape is stable over a wide range of parameters. However, when it has a 3D intrinsic and extrinsic interaction, the perfect tetrahedral shape is never stable; the vesicle is a distorted tetrahedron for small Frank constant and a highly elongated rectangle for larger Frank constant. These results show the difficulty in designing tetrahedral structures for photonic crystals.

Graphical abstract: Nematic order on a deformable vesicle: theory and simulation

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Publication details

The article was received on 15 Feb 2013, accepted on 10 Jun 2013 and first published on 11 Jun 2013

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C3SM50489A
Soft Matter, 2013,9, 8314-8326

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    Nematic order on a deformable vesicle: theory and simulation

    T. Nguyen, J. Geng, R. L. B. Selinger and J. V. Selinger, Soft Matter, 2013, 9, 8314
    DOI: 10.1039/C3SM50489A

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