Bistable anchoring of nematics on rough substrates

Cheung, David (2006) Bistable anchoring of nematics on rough substrates. EPL: A Letters Journal Exploring the Frontiers of Physics, 76 (2). pp. 243-249. ISSN 0295-5075 (

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We analyze the interplay between wetting and anchoring of nematic liquid crystals on disordering, e.g.,rough substrates in the framework of the Landau-de Gennes theory, in situations of competing homeotropic and planar easy axes on the substrate and the nematic-isotropic (NI) interface. The phase diagram for azimuthally symmetric substrates is calculated. We identify two regimes—a strongly coupled regime, where the wetting transition coincides with an anchoring transition, and a weakly coupled regime, where the two are separated. The anchoring transition is first order and switches between homeotropic and planar anchoring. The two competing orientations are metastable over a broad parameter range. Hence such surfaces can be used to generate bistable surfaces.