Thermomechanically driven spirals in a cholesteric liquid crystal

Abstract : We show that the continuous cholesteric fingers, which form in homeotropic samples at the unwinding temperature of the cholesteric phase, drift and spiral when they are subjected to a temperature gradient. This phenomenon is attributed to the appearance of a Lehmann thermomechanical torque. Measurements of the finger drift velocity on both sides of the compensation temperature of a cholesteric mixture show that the Lehmann coefficient does not change sign (and so does not vanish) at this temperature contrary to the equilibrium twist. There is thus no direct relationship between the thermomechanical Lehmann coefficient and the equilibrium twist. The nonvanishing of the Lehmann coefficient at the compensation temperature is due to the absence of inversion symmetry in a compensated cholesteric in spite of its nematiclike structure. This comes from the chirality of the molecules. The ratio of the Lehmann coefficient over the rotational viscosity is also measured as a function of temperature.
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Patrick Oswald, Alain Dequidt. Thermomechanically driven spirals in a cholesteric liquid crystal. Physical Review E : Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, American Physical Society, 2008, 77 (5), pp.051706. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.77.051706⟩. ⟨ensl-00351717⟩

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