Programming emergent symmetries with saddle-splay elasticity

XIA, Yu, DEBENEDICTIS, Andrew A, KIM, Dae Seok, CHEN, Shenglan, KIM, Se-Um, CLEAVER, Douglas J, ATHERTON, Timothy J and YANG, Shu (2019). Programming emergent symmetries with saddle-splay elasticity. Nature Communications, 10 (1), p. 5104.

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The director field adopted by a confined liquid crystal is controlled by a balance between the externally imposed interactions and the liquid’s internal orientational elasticity. While the latter is usually considered to resist all deformations, liquid crystals actually have an intrinsic propensity to adopt saddle-splay arrangements, characterised by the elastic constant K24. In most realisations, dominant surface anchoring treatments suppress such deformations, rendering K24 immeasurable. Here we identify regimes where more subtle, patterned surfaces enable saddle-splay effects to be both observed and exploited. Utilising theory and continuum calculations, we determine experimental regimes where generic, achiral liquid crystals exhibit spontaneously broken surface symmetries. These provide a new route to measuring K24. We further demonstrate a multistable device in which weak, but directional, fields switch between saddle-splay-motivated, spontaneously-polar surface states. Generalising beyond simple confinement, our highly scalable approach offers exciting opportunities for low-field, fast-switching optoelectronic devices which go beyond current technologies.

Item Type: Article
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Page Range: p. 5104
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 12:46
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2021 20:47

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