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Flexoelectric switching in cholesteric blue phases

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4831-4842
Number of pages12
JournalSoft Matter
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2013


We present computer simulations of the response of a flexoelectric blue phase network, either in bulk or under confinement, to an applied field. We find a transition in the bulk between the blue phase I disclination network and a parallel array of disclinations along the direction of the applied field. Upon switching off the field, the system is unable to reconstruct the original blue phase but gets stuck in a metastable phase. Blue phase II is comparatively much less affected by the field. In confined samples, the anchoring at the walls and the geometry of the device lead to the stabilisation of further structures, including field-aligned disclination loops, splayed nematic patterns, and yet more metastable states. Our results are relevant to the understanding of the switching dynamics for a class of new, "superstable", blue phases which are composed of bimesogenic liquid crystals, as these materials combine anomalously large flexoelectric coefficients, and low or near-zero dielectric anisotropy.

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