Modelling spreading dynamics of nematic liquid crystals in three spatial dimensions

T. S. Lin, L. Kondic, U. Thiele, L. J. Cummings

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We study spreading dynamics of nematic liquid crystal droplets within the framework of the long-wave approximation. A fourth-order nonlinear parabolic partial differential equation governing the free surface evolution is derived. The influence of elastic distortion energy and of imposed anchoring variations at the substrate are explored through linear stability analysis and scaling arguments, which yield useful insight and predictions for the behaviour of spreading droplets. This behaviour is captured by fully nonlinear time-dependent simulations of three-dimensional droplets spreading in the presence of anchoring variations that model simple defects in the nematic orientation at the substrate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)214-230
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Aug 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • interfacial flows (free surface)
  • liquid crystals
  • thin films


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