Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks.
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA
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.
|Title:||Ordering dynamics of blue phases entails kinetic stabilization of amorphous networks|
|Additional information:||11 pages, 5 figures, 2 supplementary figures, 2 supplementary tables, accepted by PNAS|
|Keywords:||cond-mat.soft, cond-mat.soft, cond-mat.mes-hall, physics.comp-ph|
|UCL classification:||UCL > School of BEAMS
UCL > School of BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
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