Toroidal droplets: instabilities, stabilizing and nematic order
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The goal of this thesis is to study the ground or metastable state structure of nematic liquid crystal systems confined inside handled shapes such as a torus or double torus. We begin our work by introducing a new method to generate a toroidal droplet from a Newtonian liquid inside another, immiscible, Newtonian liquid. In this situation, a toroidal droplet is unstable and follows one of two routes in transforming into a spherical droplet: (i) its tube breaks in a way reminiscent to the breakup of a cylindrical jet, or (ii) its tube grows until it finally coalesces onto itself. However, to be able to probe the nematic structure, we need to address the issue of instabilities. This is done by replacing the outer liquid with a yield stress material, which ultimately leads to the stabilization of the toroidal droplet. Through the experimental investigation, we are able to establish the stabilization conditions. Finally, we generate and stabilize toroidal droplets with a nematic liquid crystal as the inner liquid and a yield stress material as the outer medium. Here we observe that in the ground state, the nematic liquid crystal exhibits an intriguing twisted structure irrespective of the aspect ratio of the torus. While there are no defects observed in a toroidal droplet case, two defects with -1 topological charge each emerge each time we increase the number of handles.