Abstract:
Within the Landau-de Gennes theory of liquid crystals, we study theoretically the equilibrium configurations with uniaxial symmetry. We show that the uniaxial symmetry constraint is very restrictive and can in general not be satisfied, except in very symmetric situations. For one- and two-dimensional configurations, we characterize completely the uniaxial equilibria: they must have constant director. In the three dimensional case we focus on the model problem of a spherical droplet with radial anchoring, and show that any uniaxial equilibrium must be spherically symmetric. It was known before that uniaxiality can sometimes be broken by energy minimizers. Our results shed a new light on this phenomenon: we prove here that in one or two dimensions uniaxial symmetry is always broken, unless the director is constant. Moreover, our results concern all equilibrium configurations, and not merely energy minimizers.

Abstract:
We study in detail the influence of molecular interactions on the Frank elastic constants of uniaxial nematic liquid crystals composed of molecules of cylindrical symmetry. A brief summary of the status of theoretical development for the elastic constants of nematics is presented. Considering a pair potential having both repulsive and attractive parts numerical calculations are reported for three systems MBBA, PAA and 8OCB. For these systems the length-to-width ratio ${x_0}$ is estimated from the experimentally proposed structure of the molecules. The repulsive interaction is represented by a repulsion between hard ellipsoids of revolution (HER) and the attractive potential is represented by the quadrupole and dispersion interactions. From the numerical results we observe that in the density range of nematics the contribution of the quadrupole and dispersion interactions are small as compared to the repulsive HER interaction. The inclusion of attractive interaction reduces the values of elastic constants ratios. The temperature variation of elastic constants ratios are reported and compared with the experimental values. A reasonably good agreement between theory and experiment is observed.

Abstract:
The phase-ordering kinetics of a bulk uniaxial nematic liquid crystal is addressed using techniques that have been successfully applied to describe ordering in the O(n) model. The method involves constructing an appropriate mapping between the order-parameter tensor and a Gaussian auxiliary field. The mapping accounts both for the geometry of the director about the dominant charge 1/2 string defects and biaxiality near the string cores. At late-times t following a quench, there exists a scaling regime where the bulk nematic liquid crystal and the three-dimensional O(2) model are found to be isomorphic, within the Gaussian approximation. As a consequence, the scaling function for order-parameter correlations in the nematic liquid crystal is exactly that of the O(2) model, and the length characteristic of the strings grows as $t^{1/2}$. These results are in accord with experiment and simulation. Related models dealing with thin films and monopole defects in the bulk are presented and discussed.

Abstract:
Pattern formation in uniaxial polymeric liquid crystals is studied for different dynamic closure approximations. Using the principles of mesoscopic non-equilibrium thermodynamics in a mean-field approach, we derive a Fokker-Planck equation for the single-particle non-homogeneous distribution function of particle orientations and the evolution equations for the second and fourth order orientational tensor parameters. Afterwards, two dynamic closure approximations are discussed, one of them considering the relaxation of the fourth order orientational parameter and leading to a novel expression for the free-energy like function in terms of the scalar order parameter. Considering the evolution equation of the density of the system and values of the interaction parameter for which isotropic and nematic phases coexist, our analysis predicts that patterns and traveling waves can be produced in lyotropic uniaxial nematics even in the absence of external driving.

Abstract:
The article presents a straightforward experiment that directly and illustratively demonstrates double refraction. For this purpose, two liquid crystalline cells were designed, which enable qualitative and quantitative measurements of the extraordinary refractive index direction dependency in a uniaxial nematic liquid crystal.

Abstract:
We study uniaxial energy-minimizers within the Landau-de Gennes theory for nematic liquid crystals on a three-dimensional spherical droplet subject to homeotropic boundary conditions. We work in the low-temperature regime and show that uniaxial energy-minimizers necessarily have the structure of the well-studied radial-hedgehog solution in the low-temperature limit. An immediate consequence of this result is that Landau-de Gennes energy minimizers cannot be purely uniaxial for sufficiently low temperatures.

Abstract:
A two-particle cluster theory is presented to study uniaxial nematic liquid crystals formed by biaxial molecules, which interact with each other via dispersion forces. The equation for the molecular orientational distribution functions in two-particle cluster approximation is obtained and is solved by an terativemethod. The temperature dependences of the order parameter and of the internal energy per particle are calculated, and the values of the relevant quantities at the nematic isotropic phase transition are given. The present theory, by taking into account the short range correlations between molecules , yields improved results compared with the mean field theory.

Abstract:
The phase ordering kinetics of the two-dimensional uniaxial nematic has been studied using a Cell Dynamic Scheme. The system after quench from T=infinity was found to scale dynamically with an asymptotic growth law similar to that of two-dimensional O(2) model (quenched from above the Kosterlitz - Thouless transition temperature), i.e. L(t) ~ t/ln(t/t0 ^{1/2} (with nonuniversal time scale t0). We obtained the true asymptotic limit of the growth law by performing our simulation for sufficiently long time. The presence of topologically stable 1/2-disclination points is reflected in the observed large-momentum dependence k ^{-4} of the structure factor. The correlation function was also found to tally with the theoretical prediction of the correlation function for the two-dimensional O(2) system.

Abstract:
The dielectric dispersion in the uniaxial nematic liquid crystals affects the switching dynamics of the director, as the dielectric torque is determined by not only the present values of the electric field and director but also by their past values. We demonstrate that this dielectric memory leads to an unusual contribution to the dielectric torque that is linear in the present field and thus polarity-sensitive. This torque can be used to accelerate the switch-off phase of director dynamics.

Abstract:
Using Landau theory, it is shown that eight phenomenological parameters are needed to describe and distinguish the twelve viscosity coefficients of a biaxial nematic phase, or the five viscosity coefficients of a uniaxial nematic phase. The dependence of the coefficients on the macroscopic uniaxial and biaxial order parameters is established. Since these order parameters are determined by the anisotropies of the dielectric constant, we show that it should be possible to determine values for all eight of the phenomenological parameters of the theory from measurements of the temperature dependence of the five viscosities of a uniaxial phase.