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Colloidal dipolar interactions in 2D smectic-C films


We use a two-dimensional (2D) elastic free energy to calculate the effective interaction between two circular disks immersed in smectic-C films. For strong homeotropic anchoring, the distortion of the director field caused by the disks generates topological defects that induce an effective interaction between the disks. We use finite elements, with adaptive meshing, to minimize the 2D elastic free energy. The method is shown to be accurate and efficient for inhomogeneities on the length scales set by the disks and the defects, that differ by up to 3 orders of magnitude. We compute the effective interaction between two disk-defect pairs in a simple (linear) configuration. For large disk separations, D, the elastic free energy scales as ∼D -2, confirming the dipolar character of the long-range effective interaction. For small D the energy exhibits a pronounced minimum. The lowest energy corresponds to a symmetrical configuration of the disk-defect pairs, with the inner defect at the mid-point between the disks. The disks are separated by a distance that is twice the distance of the outer defect from the nearest disk. The latter is identical to the equilibrium distance of a defect nucleated by an isolated disk.

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Received 26 October 2001 and Received in final form 14 December 2001

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Patrício, P., Tasinkevych, M. & Telo da Gama, M. Colloidal dipolar interactions in 2D smectic-C films. Eur. Phys. J. E 7, 117–122 (2002).

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  • PACS. 61.30.Jf Defects in liquid crystals – 82.70.Dd Colloids