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On the cubic instability in the Q-tensor theory of nematics

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The Mathematics of Liquid Crystals

Symmetry considerations, as well as compatibility with the Oseen-Frank theory, require the presence of a cubic term (involving spatial derivatives) in the Q-tensor energy functional used for describing variationally the nematics. However the presence of the cubic term makes the energy functional unbounded from below.

We propose a dynamical approach for addressing this issue, namely to consider the L^2 gradient flow generated by the energy functional and show that the energy is dynamically bounded, namely if one starts with a bounded, suitable, energy then the energy stays bounded in time. We discuss notions of suitability which are related to the preservation of a physical constraint on the eigenvalues of the Q-tensors (without using the Ball-Majumdar singular potential).

This is joint work with G. Iyer and X. Xu (Carnegie-Mellon).

This talk is part of the Isaac Newton Institute Seminar Series series.

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