Saturn ring defect around a spherical particle immersed in nematic liquid crystal Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • We consider a nematic liquid crystal occupying the three-dimensional domain in the exterior of a spherical colloid particle. The nematic is subject to Dirichlet boundary conditions that enforce orthogonal attachment of nematic molecules to the surface of the particle. Our main interest is to understand the behavior of energy-critical configurations of the Landau-de Gennes $Q$-tensor model in the limit of vanishing correlation length. We demonstrate existence of configurations with a single Saturn-ring defect approaching the equator of the particle and no other line or point defects. We show this by analyzing asymptotics of energy minimizers under two symmetry constraints: rotational equivariance around the vertical axis and reflection across the horizontal plane. Energy blow-up at the ring defect is a significant obstacle to constructing well-behaved comparison maps needed to eliminate the possibility of point defects. The boundary estimates we develop to address this issue are new and should be applicable to a wider class of problems.