Topological defects in nematic elastomers and membranes
Seminar Room 1, Newton Institute
We review the structure and mechanical properties of topological defects in nematic elastomers and membranes. Nematic elastomers crosslinked in the isotropic phase (isotropic-genesis polydomains) exhibit anomalously soft mechanical response, which is explained by anisotropic orientational correlation in the polydomain state. In contrast, nematic-genesis polydomains show large mechanical stress due to memory of initial defect distributions. Orientation-curvature coupling in nematic membranes causes a correlation pattern similar to that of isotropic-genesis polydomains, which results in low-energy defected states and anomalously slow ordering kinetics. The notion of relative orientational correlation function is introduced to characterize the multi-defect states in these and other materials.