Three-dimensional coarsening dynamics of a conserved, nematic liquid crystal-isotropic fluid mixture
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We present a numerical investigation of the three-dimensional coarsening dynamics of a nematic liquid crystal-isotropic fluid mixture using a conserved phase field model. The model is a coupled system for a generalized Cahn–Hilliard equation for the order parameter ϕ, related to the volume fraction of the nematic component, and a simplified de Gennes–Prost evolution equation for the director field n, which describes the mean orientation of the rigid rod-like, liquid crystal molecules. We find that, as in the two-dimensional system, the orientational distortion induced by interfacial anchoring has profound effects both on the morphology and the coarsening rate. However, we identify significant differences in the three-dimensional and two-dimensional coarsening processes. In particular, we find a remarkable, new 3-stage late coarsening process with markedly different coarsening rates in the three-dimensional bicontinuous phase separation with homeotropic anchoring, unseen in the two-dimensional system.