Multistability in planar liquid crystal wells

Luo, Chuong and Majumdar, Apala and Erban, Radek (2012) Multistability in planar liquid crystal wells. Physical Review E. 061702. ISSN 2470-0053 (

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A planar bistable liquid crystal device, reported in Tsakonas et al. [Appl. Phys. Lett. 90, 111913 (2007)], is modeled within the Landau-de Gennes theory for nematic liquid crystals. This planar device consists of an array of square micrometer-sized wells. We obtain six different classes of equilibrium profiles and these profiles are classified as diagonal or rotated solutions. In the strong anchoring case, we propose a Dirichlet boundary condition that mimics the experimentally imposed tangent boundary conditions. In the weak anchoring case, we present a suitable surface energy and study the multiplicity of solutions as a function of the anchoring strength. We find that diagonal solutions exist for all values of the anchoring strength W ⩾ 0 , while rotated solutions only exist for W ⩾ W c > 0 , where W c is a critical anchoring strength that has been computed numerically. We propose a dynamic model for the switching mechanisms based on only dielectric effects. For sufficiently strong external electric fields, we numerically demonstrate diagonal-to-rotated and rotated-to-diagonal switching by allowing for variable anchoring strength across the domain boundary.