Numerical Results for the Blue Phases

Alexander, G. P.
Yeomans, J. M.
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We review recent numerical work investigating the equilibrium phase diagram, and the dynamics, of the cholesteric blue phases. In equilibrium numerical results confirm the predictions of the classic analytical theories, and extend them to incorporate different values of the elastic constants, or the effects of an applied electric field. There is a striking increase in the stability of blue phase I in systems where the cholesteric undergoes helical sense inversion, and the anomalous electrostriction observed in this phase is reproduced. Solving the equations of motion allows us to present results for the phase transition kinetics of blue phase I under dielectric or flexoelectric coupling to an applied electric field. We also present simulations of the blue phases in a flow field, showing how the disclination network acts to oppose the flow. The results are based on the Landau-de Gennes exapnsion of the liquid crystal free energy: that such a simple and elegant theory can predict such complex and subtle physical behaviour is remarkable.
Comment: 27 pages, 9 figures, to appear in a special issue of Liquid Crystals
Condensed Matter - Soft Condensed Matter