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Defect topologies in a nematic liquid crystal near a patchy colloid

Melle, Michael; Schlotthauer, Sergej; Mazza, Marco G.; Klapp, Sabine H. L.; Schoen, Martin

Using isothermal-isobaric Monte Carlo simulations we investigate defect topologies due to a spherical colloidal particle immersed in a nematic liquid crystal. Defects arise because of the competition between the preferential orientation at the colloid's surface and the far-field director 𝒏ˆ0. Considering a chemically homogeneous colloid as a special case we observe the well-known surface and saturn ring defect topologies for weak and strong perpendicular anchoring, respectively; for homogeneous, strong parallel anchoring we find a boojum defect topology that has been seen experimentally [see P. Poulin and D. A. Weitz, Phys. Rev. E 57, 626 (1998)] but not in computer simulations. We also consider a heterogeneous, patchy colloid where the liquid-crystal molecules anchor either preferentially planar or perpendicular at the surface of the colloid. For a patchy colloid we observe a boojum ring defect topology in agreement with recent experimental studies [see M. Conradi, M. Ravnik, M. Bele, M. Zorko, S. Žumer, and I. Muševič, Soft Matter 5, 3905 (2009)]. We also observe two other novel defect topologies that have not been reported thus far neither experimentally nor theoretically.
Published in: Journal of Chemical Physics, 10.1063/1.4717619, American Institute of Physics (AIP)
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