Chiral phase-coexistence in compressed double-twist elastomers
We adapt the theory of anisotropic rubber elasticity to model cross-linked double-twist liquid crystal cylinders such as exhibited in biological systems. In mechanical extension we recover strain-straightening, but with an exact expression in the small twist-angle limit. In compression, we observe coexistence between high and low twist phases. Coexistence begins at small compressive strains and is robustly observed for any anisotropic cross-links and for general double-twist functions – but disappears at large twist angles. Within the coexistence region, significant compression of double-twist cylinders is allowed at constant stress. Our results are qualitatively consistent with previous observations of swollen or compressed collagen fibrils, indicating that this phenomenon may be readily accessible experimentally.