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Constrained Energy Minimization for Bent-Core Liquid Crystals

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DNMW03 - Optimal design of soft matter - including a celebration of Women in Materials Science (WMS)

One of the important applications of liquid crystal materials is their use in optical and display devices. There are several phases of liquid crystals, some of which promise more efficient and less expensive optical devices than others. A recently discovered phase is made up of bow-shaped molecules, a characteristic that endows them with spontaneous ferroelectricity. Under the effect of an applied electric field, two competing mechanisms of switching can be detected in the tilted structure of these materials. An important question in this setup is how the dominant mechanism – switching here – is affected by specific system parameters. We formulate the model as an energy minimization problem allowing us to use several variational tools in its analysis. We emphasize how we can deal with challenges that arise from constraints and nonlinearities peculiar to this problem. Our results address existence and uniqueness of solutions to the ensuing partial differential equations, which in turn shed light on the physical mechanisms observed.

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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