The origin of stress-oscillation damping during start-up and reversal of torsional shearing of nematics

Patrick T. Mather, Dale S. Pearson, Ronald G. Larson, Dong Feng Gu, Alexander M. Jamieson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Using a controlled-temperature shear cell mounted on a polarizing microscope, we observe the behavior of nematic 4,4′-n-octyl-cyanobiphenyl (8CB) during start-up and reversal of shearing in a torsional parallel-plate geometry and correlate this behavior with rheological measurements. During the startup, a sequence of birefringent rings, or "twist walls", are observed that originate at the sample edge and propagate radially inward. Each twist wall is a thin region in which the director is twisted out of the plane of the velocity and velocitygradient directions. The radial variation of in-plane orientation can be explained by the variation of strain in the parallel-plate device. A high-Ericksen-number solution of the Leslie-Ericksen equations predicts a damped oscillatory shear stress response which agrees quantitatively with the measured stress oscillations out to an edge strain of around 50. The damping of the stress oscillations is due to the nonuniformity of strain in the parallel-plate geometry. On reversal of the flow, if the strain, γ, is smaller than about 500 units, the damping of stress oscillations is reversed; this correlates with an outward radial migration of twist walls. When γ>500, disclinations nucleate and spoil the reversibility of stress damping.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalRheologica Acta
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1997


  • 8CB
  • Liquid crystal
  • Tumbling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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