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Issue 29, 2019
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Topological defects and geometric memory across the nematic–smectic A liquid crystal phase transition

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Abstract

We study transformations of self-organised defect arrays at the nematic–smectic A liquid crystal phase transition, and show that these defect configurations are correlated, or “remembered”, across the phase transition. A thin film of thermotropic liquid crystal is subjected to hybrid anchoring by an air interface and a water substrate, and viewed under polarised optical microscopy. Upon heating from smectic-A to nematic, a packing of focal conic domains melts into a dense array of boojums—nematic surface defects—which then coarsens by pair-annihilation. With the aid of Landau–de Gennes numerical modeling, we elucidate the topological and geometrical rules underlying this transformation. In the transition from nematic to smectic-A, we show that focal conic domain packings are organised over large scales in patterns that retain a geometric memory of the nematic boojum configuration, which can be recovered with remarkable fidelity.

Graphical abstract: Topological defects and geometric memory across the nematic–smectic A liquid crystal phase transition

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Article information


Submitted
17 Apr 2019
Accepted
30 May 2019
First published
31 May 2019

Soft Matter, 2019,15, 5835-5841
Article type
Paper
Author version available

Topological defects and geometric memory across the nematic–smectic A liquid crystal phase transition

A. Suh, M. Gim, D. Beller and D. K. Yoon, Soft Matter, 2019, 15, 5835
DOI: 10.1039/C9SM00781D

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