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Interfacial motion in flexo- and order-electric switching between nematic filled states

Tuesday 21st May 2013 - 13:30 to 13:50
INI Seminar Room 1
We consider a nematic liquid crystal, in coexistence with its isotropic phase, in contact with a substrate patterned with rectangular grooves. In such a system, the nematic phase may fill the grooves without the occurrence of complete wetting. There may exist multiple (meta)stable filled states, each characterised by the type of distortion (bend or splay) in each corner of the groove and by the shape of the nematic-isotropic interface, and additionally the plateaux that separate the grooves may be either dry or wet with a thin layer of nematic. Using numerical simulations, we analyse the dynamical response of the system to an externally-applied electric field, with the aim of identifying switching transitions between these filled states. We find that order-electric coupling between the fluid and the field provides a means of switching between states where the plateaux between grooves are dry and states where they are wet by a nematic layer, without affecting the configu ration of the nematic within the groove. We find that flexoelectric coupling may change the nematic texture in the groove, provided that the flexoelectric coupling differentiates between the types of distortion at the corners of the substrate. We identify intermediate stages of the transitions, and the role played by the motion of the nematic-isotropic interface. We determine quantitatively the field magnitudes and orientations required to effect each type of transition.
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University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons