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Nematic textures in spherical shells

Vitelli, V.; Nelson, D.R.

Physical Review. E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics 74(2 Pt 1): 021711

2006

The equilibrium texture of nematic shells is studied as a function of their thickness. For ultrathin shells the ground state has four short 1/2 disclination lines but, as the thickness of the film increases, a three-dimensional escaped configuration composed of two pairs of half-hedgehogs becomes energetically favorable. We derive an exact solution for the nematic ground state in the one Frank constant approximation and study the stability of the corresponding texture against thermal fluctuations.

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