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Today, I gave the invited colloquium at the Liquid Crystal Institute of Kent State University. It’s quite wonderful to be invited to Kent, because the LCI is one of the most important centers in the world for liquid crystal research. As well as talking, I got to meet many of the scientists working at the institute and got to hear about the very interesting materials they’re working on.

The abstract for the talk, “The role of geometry in directing liquid crystals” was:

“Complex geometries offer rich possibilities for controlling the self assembly of soft matter systems—at the expense of some difficulty in their theoretical analysis. In this talk, I present two examples from our group’s work: First, surface patterns, which can be used to create multistable surfaces with arbitrary anchoring behavior. Here, I’ll discuss how flexoelectricity can compete with elasticity in these systems leading to rich phase diagrams. Second, I’ll show some recent work in simulating coalescing nematic shells. Before coalescence, two spherical shells each have four +1/2 disclinations;  once they have coalesced the final structure must also have four +1/2 defects. Hence, during the process, defects of negative topological charge must be created to annihilate the surplus defects. The stability of intermediate structures, and the quasi-static evolution of the system, has been explored by computer simulations.”



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