Monodomain and polydomain helicoids in chiral liquid-crystalline phases and their biological analogues
Department of Chemical Engineering, McGill University, 3610 University Street, H3A 2B2, Montreal , Quebec, Canada
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Many natural composites exhibit an architecture known as twisted plywood which imparts to them a superior set of physical properties. The origin of this structure is complex and not yet understood. However, it is thought to involve a lyotropic chiral nematic liquid-crystalline mesophase. Indeed, striking structural similarities have been observed and reported between biological fibrous composites and ordered fluids. In this work, a mathematical model based on the Landau-de Gennes theory has been developed to investigate the role played by constraining surfaces in the structural development of a composite material that experiences a liquid-crystalline state during the early steps of its morphogenesis. The goal of this study is to verify the need for an initial constraining surface in the formation of monodomain twisted plywoods as hypothesized by Neville (Tissue & Cell 20, 133 (1988); Biology of Fibrous Composites (Cambridge University Press, 1993)). The numerical simulations qualitatively confirm this theory and highlight the important role that modelling of liquid-crystalline self-assembly plays in the study of tissue morphogenesis.
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica, and Springer-Verlag, 2003