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

Amanda E. Diegel & Shawn W. Walker

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

Published online: 2018-09

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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.

  • Keywords

Nematic liquid crystal phase field Ericksen’s energy Γ-convergence gradient flow.

  • AMS Subject Headings

65M60 65M12 35Q99

  • Copyright

COPYRIGHT: © Global Science Press

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@Article{CiCP-25-155, author = {Amanda E. Diegel and Shawn W. Walker}, title = {A Finite Element Method for a Phase Field Model of Nematic Liquid Crystal Droplets}, journal = {Communications in Computational Physics}, year = {2018}, volume = {25}, number = {1}, pages = {155--188}, 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.

}, issn = {1991-7120}, doi = {https://doi.org/10.4208/cicp.OA-2017-0166}, url = {http://global-sci.org/intro/article_detail/cicp/12667.html} }
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