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  1. We study two dimensional tactoids in nematic liquid crystals by using a Q -tensor representation. A bulk free energy of the Maier–Saupe form with eigenvalue constraints on Q , plus elastic terms up to cubic order in Q are used to understand the effects of anisotropic anchoring and Frank–Oseen elasticity on the morphology of nematic–isotropic domains. Further, a volume constraint is introduced to stabilize tactoids of any size at coexistence. We find that anisotropic anchoring results in differences in interface thickness depending on the relative orientation of the director at the interface, and that interfaces become biaxial for tangential alignment when anisotropy is introduced. For negative tactoids, surface defects induced by boundary topology become sharper with increasing elastic anisotropy. On the other hand, by parametrically studying their energy landscape, we find that surface defects do not represent the minimum energy configuration in positive tactoids. Instead, the interplay between Frank–Oseen elasticity in the bulk, and anisotropic anchoring yields semi-bipolar director configurations with non-circular interface morphology. Finally, we find that for growing tactoids the evolution of the director configuration is highly sensitive to the anisotropic term included in the free energy, and that minimum energy configurations may not be representative of kineticallymore »obtained tactoids at long times.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 26, 2023
  2. Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2023
  3. Abstract The inherent inconsistency in identifying the phase field in the phase field crystal theory with the material mass and, simultaneously, with material distortion is discussed. In its current implementation, elastic relaxation in the phase field crystal occurs on a diffusive time scale through a dissipative permeation mode. The very same phase field distortion that is included in solid elasticity drives diffusive motion, resulting in a non physical relaxation of the phase field crystal. We present two alternative theories to remedy this shortcoming. In the first case, it is assumed that the phase field only determines the incompatible part of the elastic distortion, and therefore one is free to specify an additional compatible distortion so as to satisfy mechanical equilibrium at all times (in the quasi static limit). A numerical solution of the new model for the case of a dislocation dipole shows that, unlike the classical phase field crystal model, it can account for the known law of relative motion of the two dislocations in the dipole. The physical origin of the compatible strain in this new theory remains to be specified. Therefore, a second theory is presented in which an explicit coupling between independent distortion and phase fieldmore »accounts for the time dependence of the relaxation of fluctuations in both. Preliminary details of its implementation are also given.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 19, 2023
  4. We introduce a characterization of disclination lines in three dimensional nematic liquid crystals as a tensor quantity related to the so called rotation vector around the line. This quantity is expressed in terms of the nematic tensor order parameter Q , and shown to decompose as a dyad involving the tangent vector to the disclination line and the rotation vector. Further, we derive a kinematic law for the velocity of disclination lines by connecting this tensor to a topological charge density as in the Halperin-Mazenko description of defects in vector models. Using this framework, analytical predictions for the velocity of interacting line disclinations and of self-annihilating disclination loops are given and confirmed through numerical computation.
  5. A coupled phase-field and hydrodynamic model is introduced to describe a two-phase, weakly compressible smectic (layered phase) in contact with an isotropic fluid of different density. A non-conserved smectic order parameter is coupled to a conserved mass density in order to accommodate non-solenoidal flows near the smectic–isotropic boundary arising from density contrast between the two phases. The model aims to describe morphological transitions in smectic thin films under heat treatment, in which arrays of focal conic defects evolve into conical pyramids and concentric rings through curvature dependent evaporation of smectic layers. The model leads to an extended thermodynamic relation at a curved surface that includes its Gaussian curvature, non-classical stresses at the boundary and flows arising from density gradients. The temporal evolution given by the model conserves the overall mass of the liquid crystal while still allowing for the modulated smectic structure to grow or shrink. A numerical solution of the governing equations reveals that pyramidal domains are sculpted at the center of focal conics upon a temperature increase, which display tangential flows at their surface. Other cases investigated include the possible coalescence of two cylindrical stacks of smectic layers, formation of droplets, and the interactions between focal conic domainsmore »through flow.« less