Topology and ground-state degeneracy of tetrahedral smectic vesicles

Francesco Serafin, Mark J. Bowick, Sidney R. Nagel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Abstract.: Chemical design of block copolymers makes it possible to create polymer vesicles with tunable microscopic structure. Here we focus on a model of a vesicle made of smectic liquid-crystalline block copolymers at zero temperature. The vesicle assumes a faceted tetrahedral shape and the smectic layers arrange in a stack of parallel straight lines with topological defects localized at the vertices. We counted the number of allowed states at T= 0. For any fixed shape, we found a two-dimensional countable degeneracy in the smectic pattern depending on the tilt angle between the smectic layers and the edge of the tetrahedral shell. For most values of the tilt angle, the smectic layers contain spiral topological defects. The system can spontaneously break chiral symmetry when the layers organize into spiral patterns, composed of a bound pair of +1/2 disclinations. Finally, we suggest possible applications of tetrahedral smectic vesicles in the context of functionalizing defects and the possible consequences of the spiral structures for the rigidity of the vesicle. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number143
JournalEuropean Physical Journal E
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • Soft Matter: Liquid crystals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biophysics
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Surfaces and Interfaces

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