Flexoelectric instability and a spontaneous chiral-symmetry breaking in a nematic liquid crystal cell with asymmetric boundary conditions

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Using both numerical simulations and an approximate analytical theory we describe a flexoelectric-induced instability in a thin nematic liquid crystal layer with asymmetric boundary conditions subjected to an applied electric field. The dependence of the threshold value of the electric field on principal material parameters of the nematic liquid crystal and the director distribution in different regions of the cell have been studied in detail numerically. The results have been compared with a simple analytical theory that enables us to obtain explicit expressions for the threshold electric field and the period of modulation above the threshold. It has been found that in the hybrid aligned nematic cell with homeotropic anchoring on one surface and planar homogeneous anchoring on the other surface, a periodic flexoelectric-induced domain structure appears, above a critical threshold, with a chiral director distribution. The director rotates about the alignment axis when moving along a perpendicular direction in the plane of the cell. The absolute value of the threshold field has been found to depend on the direction of the field due to the initial symmetry of the hybrid aligned cell and the presence of flexoelectricity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)061707
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2007


  • thin nematic liquid crystal
  • numerical simulations
  • chiral-symmetry
  • flexoelectricity

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