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Physical Review E

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To understand the mechanism behind the pitch change during the transient planar to the planar state transition of a cholesteric liquid crystal (while it is relaxing from the homeotropic state to the planar state), we studied a more controlled situation of pitch change in a thermochromic liquid crystal. We studied the pitch change in the liquid crystal, as a function of temperature, under various surface alignment conditions such as homogeneous and homeotropic surface alignments. In a cell with homogeneous surface treatment, the liquid crystal showed a discontinuous pitch change, while the pitch change was rather continuous in a cell with homeotropic treatment. The numerical simulations also showed an existence of continuous pitch change in a homeotropic cell, but not in a homogeneous one. This led to a prediction that when a cholesteric material is switched from the homeotropic state to the planar state, the transition may be much faster for the homeotropically treated cell as compared to the homogeneously treated cell. We performed experiments to verify this prediction with a chiral nematic mixture. Indeed, the homeotropic to planar state transition time of a homeotropic cell was 5 msec, much faster compared to about 200 msec for corresponding transition in a homogeneous cell.


Copyright 1998 American Physical Society. Available on publisher's site at

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