Instabilities of nematic liquid crystal films

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We discuss instabilities exhibited by free surface nematic liquid crystal (NLC) films of nanoscale thickness deposited on solid substrates, with a focus on surface instabilities that lead to dewetting. Such instabilities have been discussed extensively; however, there is still no consensus regarding the interpretation of experimental results, appropriate modeling approaches, or instability mechanisms. Instabilities of thin NLC free surface films are related to a wider class of problems involving dewetting of non-Newtonian fluids. For nanoscale films, the substrate–film interaction, often modeled by a suitable disjoining pressure, becomes relevant. For NLCs, one can extend the formulation to include the elastic energy of the NLC film, leading to an ‘effective’ disjoining pressure, playing an important role in instability development. Focusing on thin film modeling within the framework of the long-wave asymptotic model, we discuss various instability mechanisms and outline problems where new research is needed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number101478
JournalCurrent Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


  • Fluid instabilities
  • Free surface flow
  • Nematic liquid crystals
  • Thin fluid films


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