Riv.Mat.Univ.Parma (4) 16 (1990) - Parte I


Drops of nematic liquid crystals floating on a liquid

Pages 47-71
Received: 1 February 1990  

Abstract We predict the equilibrium shapes of a drop of nematic liquid crystal floating on a liquid. Under plausible assumptions, we reduce the free energy to a functional that depends on a dimensionless parameter ω related to the temperature. We find that when -1<ω≤1 the only equilibrium shape of the drop is a ball. When ω>1 there are two equilibrium shapes, namely a ball and a ball bearing a crater underneath the plane of buoyancy. The latter shape minimizes the free energy. The size of the crater depends on ω,and it vanishes when ω=1 Thus a bifurcation with exchange of stability occurs at this point.