Liquid crystal helical ribbons as isometric textures
Centre de Recherche Paul Pascal, CNRS, Université Bordeaux 1, Avenue Schweitzer, 33600, Pessac, France
2 Laboratoire de Minéralogie-Cristallographie de Paris, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Case 115, 4 place Jussieu, 75252, Paris Cedex 05, France
3 Institute for Physical Optics, 23 Dragomanov str., Lviv, 79005, Ukraine
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Published online: 31 January 2005
Deformations that conserve the parallelism and the distances – between layers, in smectic phases; between columns, in columnar phases – are commonplace in liquid crystals. The resulting isometric deformed textures display specific geometric features. The corresponding order parameter singularities extend over rather large, macroscopic, distances, e.g., cofocal conics in smectics. This well-known picture is modified when, superimposed to the 1D or 2D periodicities, the structure is helical. However isometry can be preserved. This paper discusses the case of a medium whose structure is made of 1D modulated layers (a lamello-columnar phase), assuming that the modulations rotate helically from one layer to the next. The price to pay is that any isometric texture is necessarily frustrated; it consists of layers folded into a set of parallel helicoids, in the manner of a screw dislocation (of macroscopic Burgers vector), the modulations being along the helices, i.e. double-twisted. The singularity set is made of two helical disclination lines. We complete this geometric analysis by a crude calculation of the energy of a helical ribbon. It is suggested that the helical ribbons observed in the B7 phase of banana-like molecules are such isometric textures. As a side result, let us mention that the description of double-twist, traditionally made in terms of a partition of the director field into nested cylinders, could more than often be profitably tested against a partition into nested helicoids.
© EDP Sciences/Società Italiana di Fisica/Springer-Verlag, 2005