Fast, Scalable, and Interactive Software for Landau-de Gennes Numerical Modeling of Nematic Topological Defects

DM Sussman and DA Beller, FRONTIERS IN PHYSICS, 7, 204 (2019).

DOI: 10.3389/fphy.2019.00204

Numerical modeling of nematic liquid crystals using the tensorial Landau-de Gennes (LdG) theory provides detailed insights into the structure and energetics of the enormous variety of possible topological defect configurations that may arise when the liquid crystal is in contact with colloidal inclusions or structured boundaries. However, these methods can be computationally expensive, making it challenging to predict (meta)stable configurations involving several colloidal particles, and they are often restricted to system sizes well below the experimental scale. Here we present an open-source software package that exploits the embarrassingly parallel structure of the lattice discretization of the LdG approach. Our implementation, combining CUDA/C++ and OpenMPI, allows users to accelerate simulations using both CPU and GPU resources in either single- or multiple-core configurations. We make use of an efficient minimization algorithm, the Fast Inertial Relaxation Engine (FIRE) method, that is well-suited to large-scale parallelization, requiring little additional memory or computational cost while offering performance competitive with other commonly used methods. In multi-core operation we are able to scale simulations up to supra-micron length scales of experimental relevance, and in single-core operation the simulation package includes a user-friendly GUI environment for rapid prototyping of interfacial features and the multifarious defect states they can promote. To demonstrate this software package, we examine in detail the competition between curvilinear disclinations and point-like hedgehog defects as size scale, material properties, and geometric features are varied. We also study the effects of an interface patterned with an array of topological point-defects.

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