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Columnar versus smectic order in systems of charged colloidal rods

Columnar versus smectic order in systems of charged colloidal rods

Journal of Chemical Physics 126(19): 194901

We study the stability of inhomogeneous liquid crystalline states in systems of monodisperse, stiff, charged rods. By means of a bifurcation analysis applied to the Onsager free energy for charged rods in strongly nematic states, we investigate nematic-smectic and nematic-columnar instabilities as a function of the Debye screening length kappa(-1). While the nematic-smectic transition clearly preempts the nematic-columnar one in the regime of strong screening (i.e., small kappa(-1)) a marked stability of hexagonal columnar order is observed at larger screening lengths. The theoretical results are substantiated by Brownian dynamics computer simulation results based on the Yukawa site model. Our findings connect to experiments on tobacco mosaic virus rods, in particular, but might be relevant for soft rodlike mesogens in strong external directional fields in general.

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Accession: 052172950

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PMID: 17523834

DOI: 10.1063/1.2730819

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