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Static alignment states in a bistable azimuthal nematic device with blazed grating sidewalls

Mottram, Nigel and Evans, Carl and Brown, Carl and Davidson, Andrew (2010) Static alignment states in a bistable azimuthal nematic device with blazed grating sidewalls. Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, 43 (49). pp. 1-8. ISSN 0022-3727

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Bistable azimuthal alignment has been produced in channels of homogeneous nematic liquid crystal with periodic grating sidewalls. The grating morphologies included a symmetric triangular profile (blaze/pitch (b/p) = 0), an asymmetric highly blazed sawtooth profile (b/p = 0.5) and profiles with different amounts of blaze asymmetry between these two extremes. The observed optical textures and the trend in the relative frequency of occurrence of the two stable states as a function of the asymmetry were in agreement with the predictions of n-director-based Frank-Oseen nematic continuum theory. A sidewall grating morphology with an intermediate degree of blaze asymmetry, b/p = 0.3, gave the highest optical contrast between the bistable states.