Surface anchoring and pitch variation in thin smectic C* layers in an electric field

  • V. A. Belyakov
  • E. I. Kats
Solids Structure


The variations of the pitch of smectics C* in thin planar layers in an external electric field and their dependence on the surface anchoring are investigated theoretically. The proposed mechanism of the change in the number of half-turns of the helical structure in a finite-thickness layer upon a change in the applied field is the slip of the director on the surface of the layer through the potential barrier of surface anchoring. The equations describing the pitch variation in an external field and, in particular, the hysteresis in the jumpwise variations of the pitch for opposite directions of field variation are given and analyzed for arbitrary values of the field. For weak fields, it is found that the pitch variation in the layer is of a universal nature and is determined by only one dimensionless parameter, Sd= K22/dW, where K22 is the Frank torsion modulus, W is the surface anchoring potential, and d is the layer thickness. The possibility of direct determination of the form of the anchoring potential from the results of corresponding measurements is considered. Numerical calculations for the deviation of the director from the direction of alignment on the layer surface and pitch variations, as well as the points of pitch jumps and hysteresis in the field, are made for the Rapini model anchoring potential for values of the parameters for which the pitch variation weakly depends on the direction of the field applied in the plane perpendicular to the spiral axis of smectics C*. The changes in the pitch variation in stronger fields are discussed, and the optimal conditions for observing the discovered effects are formulated.


Elementary Particle Potential Barrier External Field Dimensionless Parameter External Electric Field 
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© MAIK "Nauka/Interperiodica" 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. A. Belyakov
    • 1
  • E. I. Kats
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Landau Institute of Theoretical PhysicsRussian Academy of SciencesChernogolovka, Moscow oblastRussia
  2. 2.Institute Laue-LangevinGrenobleFrance

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