Multiple short time power laws in the orientational relaxation of nematic liquid crystals

Jose, Prasanth P. ; Bagchi, Biman (2006) Multiple short time power laws in the orientational relaxation of nematic liquid crystals Journal of Chemical Physics, 125 (18). 184901_1-184901_10. ISSN 0021-9606

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Relaxation in the nematic liquid crystalline phase is known to be sensitive to its proximity to both isotropic and smectic phases. Recent transient optical Kerr effect (OKE) studies have revealed, rather surprisingly, two temporal power laws at short to intermediate times and also an apparent absence of the expected exponential decay at longer times. In order to understand this unusual dynamics, we have carried out extensive molecular dynamics simulations of transient OKE and related orientational time correlation functions in a system of prolate ellipsoids (with aspect ratio equal to 3). The simulations find two distinct power laws, with a crossover region, in the decay of the orientational time correlation function at short to intermediate times (in the range of a few picoseconds to a few nanoseconds). In addition, the simulation results fail to recover any long time exponential decay component. The system size dependence of the exponents suggests that the first power law may originate from the local orientational density fluctuations (like in a glassy liquid). The origin of the second power law is less clear and may be related to the long range fluctuations (such as smectic like density fluctuations)-these fluctuations are expected to involve small free energy barriers. In support of the latter, the evidence of pronounced coupling between orientational and spatial densities at intermediate wave numbers is presented. This coupling is usually small in normal isotropic liquids, but it is large in the present case. In addition to slow collective orientational relaxation, the single particle orientational relaxation is also found to exhibit slow dynamics in the nematic phase in the long time.

Item Type:Article
Source:Copyright of this article belongs to American Institute of Physics.
ID Code:4016
Deposited On:13 Oct 2010 07:00
Last Modified:07 Jan 2011 09:39

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