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Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks

Henrich, O; Stratford, K; Marenduzzo, D; Cates, ME; (2010) Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA , 107 13212 - 13215. 10.1073/pnas.1004269107.

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Abstract

The cubic blue phases of liquid crystals are fascinating and technologically promising examples of hierarchically structured soft materials, comprising ordered networks of defect lines (disclinations) within a liquid crystalline matrix. We present the first large-scale simulations of their domain growth, starting from a blue phase nucleus within a supercooled isotropic or cholesteric background. The nucleated phase is thermodynamically stable; one expects its slow orderly growth, creating a bulk cubic. Instead, we find that the strong propensity to form disclinations drives the rapid disorderly growth of a metastable amorphous defect network. During this process the original nucleus is destroyed; re-emergence of the stable phase may therefore require a second nucleation step. Our findings suggest that blue phases exhibit hierarchical behavior in their ordering dynamics, to match that in their structure.

Type:Article
Title:Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks
DOI:10.1073/pnas.1004269107
Publisher version:http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1004269107
Additional information:11 pages, 5 figures, 2 supplementary figures, 2 supplementary tables, accepted by PNAS
UCL classification:UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Chemistry

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