Phase separation and folding in swelled nematoelastic films
AbstractWe explore reshaping of nematoelastic films upon imbibing an isotropic solvent under conditions when isotropic and nematic phases coexist. The structure of the interphase boundary is computed taking into account the optimal nematic orientation governed by interaction of gradients of the nematic order parameter and solvent concentration. This structure determines the effective line tension of the boundary. We further compute equilibrium shapes of deformed thin sheets and cylindrical and spherical shells with the rectilinear or circular shape of the boundary between nematic and isotropic domains. A differential expansion or contraction near this boundary generates a folding pattern spreading out into the bulk of both phases. The hierarchical ordering of this pattern is most pronounced on a cylindrical shell.