What is it about?
Liquid crystals possess some form of long-range order but flow like a liquid. In this case they all tend to point in one direction, called the director. Here we look at how the molecules align when confined in a shell, similar to a bubble. We find that for thin shells for defects (regions of disorder) are found, whilst for thick shells two defects at the poles are most stable and an intermediate configuration can be observed for medium thickness shells with three defects. We were able to force a transition from four to two defects by changing the properties of the liquid crystal.
Photo by Marc Sendra Martorell on Unsplash
Why is it important?
We developed a simple "toy" model to look at liquid crystal systems and successfully replicated experimental results. From this, we were able to predict how to force a transition from four to two defects by changing the properties of the liquid crystal which has since been shown experimentally. The four defect shells are proposed to be able to self assemble into a photonic crystal which has significant impact in display technologies. However, this will only occur if we can tightly control how and where the defects occur. Here we used computer simulations to provide insight into how to achieve this.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Monte Carlo simulations of nematic and chiral nematic shells, Physical Review E, January 2015, American Physical Society (APS), DOI: 10.1103/physreve.91.012502.
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