Andrew DeBenedictis and Tim Atherton have just published a paper on “Shape minimisation problems in liquid crystals” in a special 30th anniversary issue of Liquid Crystals. Wanting to present a forward-looking picture, the journal’s editor reached out to young experts across the field, including professor Atherton, to present their latest exciting work. As such, it was the perfect opportunity for Andrew to present his new shape/order minimization model which simulates the deformation of a complex fluid droplet.
The problem of simultaneously minimizing shape and order is notoriously difficult due to the dynamic nature of the mesh over which the order is defined. The paper presents a technique to regularize the mesh, or keep it well-behaved, that promotes better numerical stability. Using this technique, the authors simulate deformation of a flexible capacitor and of droplets of nematic liquid crystal. Additionally, isotropic inclusions within tactoid-shaped nematic liquid crystal droplets were shown to form tactoid shapes as well – a new result that agrees with experimental findings.
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