Modeling and simulations of the spreading and destabilization of nematic droplets

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A series of experiments [C. Poulard and A. M. Cazabat, "Spontaneous spreading of nematic liquid crystals," Langmuir21, 6270 (2005)] on spreading droplets of nematic liquid crystal (NLC) reveals a surprisingly rich variety of behaviors. Small droplets can either be arrested in their spreading, spread stably, destabilize without spreading (corrugated surface), or spread with a fingering instability and corrugated free surface. In this work, we discuss the problem of NLC drops spreading in a simplified two-dimensional (2D) geometry. The model that we present is based on a long-wavelength approach for NLCs by Ben Amar and Cummings ["Fingering instabilities in driven thin nematic films," Phys. Fluids13, 1160 (2001); L. J. Cummings, "Evolution of a thin film of nematic liquid crystal with anisotropic surface energy," Eur. J. Appl. Math.15, 651 (2004)]. The improvements in the model here permit fully nonlinear time-dependent simulations. These simulations, for the appropriate choice of parameter values, exhibit 2D versions of most of the phenomena mentioned above.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number043102
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 19 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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