Field-induced realignment of a smectic nanodroplet in an external magnetic field: A numerical investigation
Section for Computational Biophysics, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Ornstein Laboratory, P.O. Box 80000, 3508 TA, Utrecht, The Netherlands
2 DUBBLE CRG, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), B.P. 220, F-38043, Grenoble, Cedex, France
Accepted: 10 December 2007
Published online: 21 January 2008
The field-induced realignment of a smectic-A phase is in principle a complicated process involving the director rotation via the interaction with the field and the layer rotation via the molecular interactions. Time-resolved X-ray scattering experiments have revealed major phenomena concerning the maintenance of the integrity of the smectic-A layer structure during the alignment process. In order to obtain a deeper insight into this process, we have carried out a dissipative particle dynamics study of the realignment kinetics of a nanodroplet of a smectic-A liquid crystal suspended in an isotropic fluid following a switch in the direction of an applied magnetic field. The strength of the mesogen-field interaction is small compared to the inter-molecular interactions. The reaction of the smectic configuration to the field switch was found to depend on the balance between the inter-molecular interactions stabilising the formation of the smectic layering and the interaction of the mesogens with the external field. It is found that the rotational behaviour of the smectic layers under the influence of an external magnetic field arises from a combination of stochastic translational displacements and rotational motions of the centres of mass of the mesogens in the nanodroplets. The simulations indicate that X-ray scattering and NMR experiments monitoring the orientational order are sensitive to different aspects of the realignment process.
PACS: 61.30.Cz Molecular and microscopic models and theories of liquid crystal structure – / 61.43.Bn Structural modeling: serial-addition models, computer simulation –
© EDP Sciences, Società Italiana di Fisica and Springer-Verlag, 2008