Electric field induced order reconstruction in a nematic cell

R. Barberi, F. Ciuchi, G.E. Durand, M. Iovane, D. Sikharulidze, A.M. Sonnet, E.G. Virga

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72 Citations (Scopus)


We have experimentally observed the biaxial switching between two topologically distinct textures of a nematic liquid crystal cell submitted to a strong electric field. The effect is deduced from optical and electrical measurements across the cell. Above a static threshold, a bulk order reconstruction is observed, where the final nematic orientation in the centre becomes perpendicular to its initial one, inducing a total change of orientation across the cell. Using short electric field pulses, a higher dynamical threshold is observed. These experiments are explained by a Landau-de Gennes-Khalatnikov model. The threshold implies the local exchange of two eigenvalues of the nematic order tensor through intermediate biaxial states. The onset of the effect in a thin splay-bend wall decreases the static threshold by almost an order of magnitude. The model explains reasonably well the static and dynamic measurements within the present description of nematic biaxiality.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E - Soft Matter
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004


  • nematic cells
  • electric field
  • physics


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