Free energy pathways of a multistable liquid crystal device

Halim Kusumaatmaja, Apala Majumdar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The planar bistable device [Tsakonas et al., Appl. Phys. Lett., 2007, 90, 111913] is known to have two distinct classes of stable equilibria: the diagonal and rotated solutions. We model this device within the two-dimensional Landau-de Gennes theory, with a surface potential and without any external fields. We systematically compute a special class of transition pathways, referred to as minimum energy pathways, between the stable equilibria that provide new information about how the equilibria are connected in the Landau-de Gennes free energy landscape. These transition pathways exhibit an intermediate transition state, which is a saddle point of the Landau-de Gennes free energy. We numerically compute the structural details of the transition states, the optimal transition pathways and the free energy barriers between the equilibria, as a function of the surface anchoring strength. For strong anchoring, the transition pathways are mediated by defects whereas we get defect-free transition pathways for moderate and weak anchoring. In the weak anchoring limit, we recover a cusp catastrophe situation for which the rotated state acts as a transition state connecting two different diagonal states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4809-4817
Number of pages9
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jun 2015


  • free energy pathways
  • multistable liquid crystal device
  • Landau-de Gennes theory


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