A structure-preserving finite element method for uniaxial nematic liquid crystals

13 June 2019
Professor Ricardo Nochetto

The Landau-DeGennes Q-model of uniaxial nematic liquid crystals seeks a rank-one

traceless tensor Q that minimizes a Frank-type energy plus a double well potential

that confines the eigenvalues of Q to lie between -1/2 and 1. We propose a finite

element method (FEM) which preserves this basic structure and satisfies a discrete

form of the fundamental energy estimates. We prove that the discrete problem Gamma

converges to the continuous one as the meshsize tends to zero, and propose a discrete

gradient flow to compute discrete minimizers. Numerical experiments confirm the ability

of the scheme to approximate configurations with half-integer defects, and to deal with

colloidal and electric field effects. This work, joint with J.P. Borthagaray and S.

Walker, builds on our previous work for the Ericksen's model which we review briefly.

  • Computational Mathematics and Applications Seminar