Spatiotemporal character of the Bobylev-Pikin flexoelectric instability in a twisted nematic bent-core liquid crystal exposed to very low frequency fields.

Research paper by K S KS Krishnamurthy

Indexed on: 30 Oct '14Published on: 30 Oct '14Published in: Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics


The Bobylev-Pikin striped-pattern state induced by a homogeneous electric field is a volume flexoelectric instability, originating in the midregion of a planarly aligned nematic liquid crystal layer. We find that the instability acquires a spatiotemporal character upon excitation by a low frequency (0.5 Hz) square wave field. This is demonstrated using a bent-core liquid crystal, initially in the 90°-twisted planar configuration. The flexoelectric modulation appears close to the cathode at each polarity reversal and, at low voltage amplitudes, decays completely as the field becomes steady. Correspondingly, at successive polarity changes, the stripe direction switches between the alignment directions at the two substrates. For large voltages, the stripes formed nearly along the alignment direction at the cathode gradually reorient toward the midplane director. These observations are generally attributed to inhomogeneous and time-dependent field conditions that come to exist after each polarity reversal. Polarity dependence of the instability is attributed to the formation of intrinsic double layers that bring about an asymmetry in surface fields. Momentary field elevation near the cathode following a voltage sign reversal and concomitant gradient flexoelectric polarization are considered the key factors in accounting for the surfacelike modulation observed at low voltages.