Topological defects in spherical nematics

Homin Shin, Mark J. Bowick, Xiangjun Xing

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128 Scopus citations


We study the organization of topological defects in a system of nematogens confined to the two-dimensional sphere (S2). We first perform MonteCarlo simulations of a fluid system of hard rods (spherocylinders) living in the tangent plane of S2. The sphere is adiabatically compressed until we reach a jammed nematic state with maximum packing density. The nematic state exhibits four +1/2 disclinations arrayed on a great circle. This arises from the high elastic anisotropy of the system in which splay (K1) is far softer than bending (K3). We also introduce and study a lattice nematic model on S2 with tunable elastic constants and map out the preferred defect locations as a function of elastic anisotropy. We find a one-parameter family of degenerate ground states in the extreme splay-dominated limit K3/K1→. Thus the global defect geometry is controllable by tuning the relative splay to bend modulus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number037802
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 17 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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