Non-uniformities in polymer/liquid crystal mixtures II. Nematic nucleation

A Matsuyama, R M L Evans, M E Cates

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We theoretically model the nucleation of nematic droplets during phase ordering in mixtures of a flexible polymer and a low-molecular-weight, liquid crystal. By appealing to classical nucleation theory (CNT), we calculate the energy barrier to nucleation and the size of a. critical nucleus. We study the influence of a metastable intermediate phase on the nucleation of the nematic. Below a triple point in the phase diagram, there axe two distinct mechanisms for the formation of a nematic nucleus: 1) direct nucleation from the isotropic phase and 2) nucleation via a precursor metastable isotropic phase. We calculate the crossover concentration as a function of temperature, delineating the regions of the phase diagram in which each mechanism prevails. In the latter case, the presence of a hidden metastable isotropic isotropic binodal may either promote or delay the nucleation of a nematic phase.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-95
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean physical journal e
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2002

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