Liquid crystals (LCs) display many of the flow characteristics of liquids but exhibit long range orientational order. In the nematic phase, the coupling of structure and flow leads to complex hydrodynamic effects that remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we consider the hydrodynamics of a nematic LC in a hybrid cell, where opposite walls have conflicting anchoring boundary conditions, and we employ a 3D lattice Boltzmann method to simulate the time-dependent flow patterns that can arise. Due to the symmetry breaking of the director field within the hybrid cell, we observe that at low to moderate shear rates, the volumetric flow rate under Couette and Poiseuille flows is different for opposite flow directions. At high shear rates, the director field may undergo a topological transition which leads to symmetric flows. By applying an oscillatory pressure gradient to the channel, a net volumetric flow rate is found to depend on the magnitude and frequency of the oscillation, as well as the anchoring strength. Taken together, our findings suggest several intriguing new applications for LCs in microfluidic devices.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry