Mean-field theory of a nematic liquid crystal doped with anisotropic nanoparticles

M.V. Gorkunov, Mikhail Osipov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

82 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

In the framework of molecular mean-field theory we study the effect of nanoparticles embedded in nematic liquid crystals on the orientational ordering and nematic–isotropic phase transition. We show that spherically isotropic nanoparticles effectively dilute the liquid crystal medium and decrease the nematic–isotropic transition temperature. At the same time, anisotropic nanoparticles become aligned by the nematic host and, reciprocally, improve the liquid crystal alignment. The theory clarifies the microscopic origin of the experimentally observed shift of the isotropic–nematic phase transition and an improvement of the nematic order in composite materials. A considerable softening of the first order nematic–isotropic transition caused by strongly anisotropic nanoparticles is also predicted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4348-4356
Number of pages9
JournalSoft Matter
Volume7
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Fingerprint

Mean field theory
Nematic liquid crystals
liquid crystals
Nanoparticles
Liquid Crystals
nanoparticles
Phase transitions
softening
transition temperature
alignment
composite materials
shift
Composite materials

Keywords

  • crystals
  • liquid crystals
  • nanoparticles

Cite this

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Mean-field theory of a nematic liquid crystal doped with anisotropic nanoparticles. / Gorkunov, M.V.; Osipov, Mikhail.

In: Soft Matter, Vol. 7, No. 9, 2011, p. 4348-4356.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Mean-field theory of a nematic liquid crystal doped with anisotropic nanoparticles

AU - Gorkunov, M.V.

AU - Osipov, Mikhail

PY - 2011

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N2 - In the framework of molecular mean-field theory we study the effect of nanoparticles embedded in nematic liquid crystals on the orientational ordering and nematic–isotropic phase transition. We show that spherically isotropic nanoparticles effectively dilute the liquid crystal medium and decrease the nematic–isotropic transition temperature. At the same time, anisotropic nanoparticles become aligned by the nematic host and, reciprocally, improve the liquid crystal alignment. The theory clarifies the microscopic origin of the experimentally observed shift of the isotropic–nematic phase transition and an improvement of the nematic order in composite materials. A considerable softening of the first order nematic–isotropic transition caused by strongly anisotropic nanoparticles is also predicted.

AB - In the framework of molecular mean-field theory we study the effect of nanoparticles embedded in nematic liquid crystals on the orientational ordering and nematic–isotropic phase transition. We show that spherically isotropic nanoparticles effectively dilute the liquid crystal medium and decrease the nematic–isotropic transition temperature. At the same time, anisotropic nanoparticles become aligned by the nematic host and, reciprocally, improve the liquid crystal alignment. The theory clarifies the microscopic origin of the experimentally observed shift of the isotropic–nematic phase transition and an improvement of the nematic order in composite materials. A considerable softening of the first order nematic–isotropic transition caused by strongly anisotropic nanoparticles is also predicted.

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