Droplet snap-off in fluids with nematic liquid crystalline ordering

A A Verhoeff, H N W Lekkerkerker
2012 New Journal of Physics  
We studied the snap-off of nematic liquid crystalline droplets originating from the Rayleigh-Taylor instability at the isotropic-nematic interface in suspensions of charged gibbsite in water and sterically stabilized gibbsite in bromotoluene. We found that droplet snap-off strongly depends on the director field structure inside the thinning neck, which is determined by the ratio of the splay elastic constant and the anchoring strength of the nematic phase to the droplet interface relative to
more » ... face relative to the thickness of the thinning neck. If anchoring is weak, which is the case for aqueous gibbsite, this ratio is comparable to the thickness of the breaking thread. As a result, the thinning neck and pending drop have a uniform director field and droplet snap-off is determined by the viscous properties of the liquid crystal as well as by thermal fluctuations of the interface. On the other hand, in sterically stabilized gibbsite where anchoring is strong, this ratio is significantly smaller than the neck thickness. In this case, the neck has an escaped radial director field and the neck thinning is retarded close to snap-off due to a topological energy barrier involved in the separation of the droplet from the thread.
doi:10.1088/1367-2630/14/2/023010 fatcat:5tjwpazflvgwbl4ous4kktqfrm