Topology and bistability in liquid crystal devices

Majumdar, Apala and Newton, C. J. P. and Robbins, J. M. and Zyskin, M. (2007) Topology and bistability in liquid crystal devices. Physical Review E, 75 (5). 051703. ISSN 2470-0053 (

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We study nematic liquid crystal configurations in a prototype bistable device—the post aligned bistable nematic (PABN) cell. Working within the Oseen-Frank continuum model, we describe the liquid crystal configuration by a unit-vector field n , in a model version of the PABN cell. First, we identify four distinct topologies in this geometry. We explicitly construct trial configurations with these topologies which are used as initial conditions for a numerical solver, based on the finite-element method. The morphologies and energetics of the corresponding numerical solutions qualitatively agree with experimental observations and suggest a topological mechanism for bistability in the PABN cell geometry.