Multiscale Simulation of Liquid Crystals
Nematic liquid crystals are characterized by the occurrence of disclination lines, topological defects where the average molecular orientation changes abruptly. Recent experiments have shown that, in addition to their application in displays, liquid crystals permit the detection of ligand-receptor binding by optical amplification. The optimal design of LC-based biosensors requires an understanding of the effects of the presence of biomolecules on the structure and dynamics of nematic liquid crystals. We present a multiscale approach that combines molecular simulations and mesoscale modeling: Monte Carlo simulations are used to study the interactions of diluite colloidal particles, as well as the structure of topological defects; these results compare satisfactorily with the corresponding theoretical calculations at the mesoscale level. The mesoscale modeling of a multi-particle sensor shows that adsorbed biomo- lecules modify the relaxation dynamics in the device: at low surface-coverage densities, the equilibrium structure is characterized by a slightly perturbed uniform nematic order; at a critical density, the dynamics exhibits a slowdown at late stages, characteristic of the inability of the nematic to achieve a uniform order. These results are compared with experimental observations of the nematic response in biosensors.
KeywordsLiquid Crystal Nematic Liquid Crystal Molecular Simulation Topological Defect Nematic Phase
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