Model of the dynamics of an interface between a smectic phase and an isotropic phase of different density

Eduardo Vitral, Perry H. Leo, Jorge Vinãls

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Abstract

Soft modulated phases have been shown to undergo complex morphological transitions, in which layer remodeling induced by mean and Gaussian curvatures plays a major role. This is the case in smectic films under thermal treatment, where focal conics can be reshaped into conical pyramids and concentric ring structures. We build on earlier research on a smectic-isotropic, two-phase configuration in which diffusive evolution of the interface was driven by curvature, while mass transport was neglected. Here, we explicitly consider evaporation-condensation processes in a smectic phase with mass transport through a coexisting isotropic fluid phase, as well as the hydrodynamic stresses at the interface and the resulting flows. By employing the Coleman-Noll procedure, we derive a phase-field model that accounts for a varying density field coupled to smectic layering of the order parameter. The resulting equations govern the evolution of an interface between a modulated phase and an isotropic fluid phase with distinct densities, and they capture compressibility effects in the interfacial region and topological transitions. We first verify a numerical implementation of the governing equations by examining the dispersion relation for interfacial transverse modes. The inverse decay rate is shown to scale as Q2 (Q is the wave number of the perturbation) due to hydrodynamic effects, instead of the Q4 expected for diffusive decay. Then, by integrating the equations forward in time, we investigate fluid flow on distorted layers and focal conics, and show how interfacial stresses and density contrast significantly determine the structure of the flow and the evolution of the configuration

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number073302
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Volume5
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research has been supported by the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute and by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) , which is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. ACI 1548562. E.V. acknowledges support via a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship and from the Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics Department, University of Minnesota. The research of J.V. is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. DMR-1838977.

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