The European Physical Journal E

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 489–500 | Cite as

Zigzag instability of a χ disclination line in a cholesteric liquid crystal

  • A. Dequidt
  • P. OswaldEmail author
Regular Article


We studied the formation of χ disclination lines in planar cholesteric samples placed in a temperature gradient near the cholesteric to smectic A phase transition. We observed that the first simple line which forms close to the smectic-cholesteric front zigzags when it is perpendicular to the direction of planar anchoring and is straight for other orientations. This instability is similar to Herring instability for crystalline surfaces. We show numerically that it originates from a strong increase of the elastic anisotropy close to the transition. In addition, we propose a new method to measure the pitch divergence at the smectic to cholesteric phase transition.


61.30.Jf Defects in liquid crystals 64.70.Md Transitions in liquid crystals 


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© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire de Physique de l'Ecole Normale Supérieure de LyonLyon Cedex 07France

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