Curvature-driven stability of defects in nematic textures over spherical disks
AbstractStabilizing defects in liquid-crystal systems is crucial for many physical processes and applications ranging from functionalizing liquid-crystal textures to recently reported command of chaotic behaviors of active matters. In this work, we perform analytical calculations to study the curvature-driven stability mechanism of defects based on the isotropic nematic disk model that is free of any topological constraint. We show that in a growing spherical disk covering a sphere the accumulation of curvature effect can prevent typical +1 and +1/2 defects from forming boojum textures where the defects are repelled to the boundary of the disk. Our calculations reveal that the movement of the equilibrium position of the +1 defect from the boundary to the center of the spherical disk occurs in a very narrow window of the disk area, exhibiting the first-order phase-transition-like behavior. For the pair of +1/2 defects by splitting a +1 defect, we find the curvature-driven alternating repulsive and attractive interactions between the two defects. With the growth of the spherical disk these two defects tend to approach and finally recombine towards a +1 defect texture. The sensitive response of defects to curvature and the curvature-driven stability mechanism demonstrated in this work in nematic disk systems may have implications towards versatile control and engineering of liquid-crystal textures in various applications.