2022 Impact factor 1.8
Soft Matter and Biological Physics
Eur. Phys. J. E 9, 171-193 (2002)
DOI: 10.1140/epje/i2002-10083-3

Temperature effects on capillary instabilities in a thin nematic liquid crystalline fiber embedded in a viscous matrix

A.-G. Cheong and A.D. Rey

Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, 3610 University Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H3A 2B2


(Received 15 April 2002 and Received in final form 3 October 2002 / Published online: 23 December 2002)

Linear stability analysis of capillary instabilities in a thin nematic liquid crystalline cylindrical fiber embedded in an immiscible viscous matrix is performed by formulating and solving the governing nemato-capillary equations, that include the effect of temperature on the nematic ordering as well as the effect of the nematic orientation. A representative axial nematic orientation texture with the planar easy axis at the fiber surface is studied. The surface disturbance is expressed in normal modes, which include the azimuthal wave number m to take into account non-axisymmetric modes. Capillary instabilities in nematic fibers reflect the anisotropic nature of liquid crystals, such as the ordering and orientation contributions to the surface elasticity and surface normal and bending stresses. Surface gradients of normal and bending stresses provide additional anisotropic contributions to the capillary pressure that may renormalize the classical displacement and curvature forces that exist in any fluid fiber. The exact nature (stabilizing and destabilizing) and magnitude of the renormalization of the displacement and curvature forces depend on the nematic ordering and orientation, i.e. the anisotropic contribution to the surface energy, and accordingly capillary instabilities may be axisymmetric or non-axisymmetric. In addition, when the interface curvature effects are accounted for as contributions of the work of interfacial bending and torsion to the total energy of the system, the higher-order bending moment contribution to the surface stress tensor is critical in stabilizing the fiber instabilities. For the planar easy axis, the nematic ordering contribution to the surface energy, which renormalizes the effect of the fiber shape, plays a crucial role to determine the instability mechanisms. Moreover, the unstable modes, which are most likely observed, can be driven by the dependence of surface energy on the surface area. Low-ordering fibers display the classical axisymmetric mode, since the surface energy decreases by decreasing the surface area. Decreasing temperature gives rise to the encounter with a local maximum or to monotonic increase of the characteristic length of the axisymmetric mode. Meanwhile, in the presence of high surface ordering, non-axisymmetric finite wavelength instabilities emerge, with higher modes growing faster since the surface energy decreases by increasing the surface area. As temperature decreases, the pitches of the chiral microstructures become smaller. However, this non-axisymmetric instability mechanism can be regulated by taking account of the surface bending moment, which contains higher order variations in the interface curvatures. More and more non-axisymmetric modes emerge as temperature decreases, but, at constant temperature, only a finite number of non-axisymmetric modes are unstable and a single fastest growing mode emerges with lower and higher unstable modes growing slower. For nematic fibers, the classical fiber-to-droplet transformation is one of several possible instability pathways, while others include chiral microstructures. The capillary instabilities' growth rate of a thin nematic fiber in a viscous matrix is suppressed by increasing either the fiber or matrix viscosity, but the estimated droplet sizes after fiber breakup in axisymmetric instabilities decrease with increasing the matrix viscosity.

61.30.Hn - Surface phenomena: alignment, anchoring, anchoring transitions, surface-induced layering, surface-induced ordering, wetting, prewetting transitions, and wetting transitions.
68.03.Kn - Dynamics (capillary waves).
68.03.Cd - Surface tension and related phenomena.

© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, Springer-Verlag 2002