Volume 25, Issue 1
A Finite Element Method for a Phase Field Model of Nematic Liquid Crystal Droplets

Amanda E. Diegel and Shawn W. Walker

10.4208/cicp.OA-2017-0166

Commun. Comput. Phys., 25 (2019), pp. 155-188.

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  • Abstract

We develop a novel finite element method for a phase field model of nematic liquid crystal droplets. The continuous model considers a free energy comprised of three components: the Ericksen’s energy for liquid crystals, the Cahn-Hilliard energy representing the interfacial energy of the droplet, and an anisotropic weak anchoring energy that enforces a condition such that the director field is aligned perpendicular to the interface of the droplet. Applications of the model are for finding minimizers of the free energy and exploring gradient flow dynamics. We present a finite element method that utilizes a special discretization of the liquid crystal elastic energy, as well as mass-lumping to discretize the coupling terms for the anisotropic surface tension part. Next, we present a discrete gradient flow method and show that it is monotone energy decreasing. Furthermore, we show that global discrete energy minimizers Γconverge to global minimizers of the continuous energy. We conclude with numerical experiments illustrating different gradient flow dynamics, including droplet coalescence and break-up.

  • History

Published online: 2018-09

  • AMS Subject Headings

65M60, 65M12, 35Q99

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