Annihilation dynamics of topological defects induced by microparticles in nematic liquid crystals†
The annihilation dynamics of s = ±1 topological defects with and without microparticles in a nematic liquid crystal were investigated and compared. The microparticle with a homeotropic surface anchoring can act as a s = +1 defect and produce a corresponding s = −1 defect nearby. Both of them attract and move towards each other. The speed of the positive defect induced by the microparticle is much slower than that of the negative defect, contrary to the situation without particles. The effects of electric field strength and frequency, particle size, the confining cell gap, and temperature were systematically investigated. The study shows that the dynamics of the annihilation process is related to a complex interplay between elastic attractions, viscous drag forces, backflow effects, director configurations and cell confinement.