Non-equilibrium steady structures of confined liquid crystals driven by a dynamic boundary

RF Zhang and CL Ren and JW Feng and YQ Ma, SCIENCE CHINA-PHYSICS MECHANICS & ASTRONOMY, 62, 117012 (2019).

DOI: 10.1007/s11433-019-9386-2

Steady structures originating from dynamic self-assembly have begun to show their advantages in new generation materials, and pose challenges to equilibrium self-assembly. In view of the important role of confinement in self-assembly, here, we propose a new type of confinement leading to dynamic steady structures, which opens a new window for the conventional confinement. In our model, we consider the self-assembly of ellipsoids in 2D circular confinement via the boundary performing periodically stretching and contracting oscillation. Langevin dynamics simulations reveal the achievement of non-equilibrium steady structures under appropriate boundary motions, which are novel smectic structures with stable topological defects. Different from the confinement with a static boundary, ellipsoids close to the boundary have variable orientations depending on the boundary motion. Order-order structural transitions, accompanied by the symmetry change and varied defect number, occur with the change of oscillating amplitude and/or frequency of the boundary. Slow and fast dynamics are distinguished according to whether structural rearrangements and energetic adjustment happen or not. The collective motion of confined ellipsoids, aroused by the work performed on the system, is the key factor determining both the structure and dynamics of the self-assembly. Our results not only achieve novel textures of circular confined liquid crystals, but also inspire us to reconsider the self-assembly within the living organisms.

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