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Order Reconstruction of Nematic Liquid Crystals in Microfluidic Channels

Fall 2021
Lidia Mrad (Mount Holyoke)

Molecules of a nematic liquid crystal tend to align along preferred directions, producing partially-ordered material. This results in peculiar physical properties that render them useful in a range of applications, including their widespread use in optical displays. When confined to thin planar cells or channels, the fluid flow extends the applications of nematics further to optofluidic devices and guided micro-cargo transport. Our goal is to examine the intrinsic coupling between the fluid motion and the orientation of nematic molecules within a reduced Beris-Edwards framework. We consider steady unidirectional flows and obtain a system of nonlinear and coupled differential equations. Our results analyze and simulate flows that produce order reconstruction solutions, where samples have distinct sub-domains separated by domain walls with each sub-domain possessing different directions. This is joint work with J. Dalby and A. Majumdar.