Role of surface-like elastic constants in the phenomenology of confined nematics
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Confined nematics are a natural setting to study aspects relating to phenomenology of symmetry breaking, evolution and dynamics of topological defects. In this study we highlight the interplay of the surface-like elastic constants with the phenomenology mentioned above. We exploit nematics confined to cylinders to study a spontaneous reflection symmetry breaking phase transition. The role of saddle-splay elasticity in driving this transition is described in detail. We also confine nematics to rectangular geometries which reveal novel director and defect configurations. We uncover surprising aspects regarding the scaling of surface-like elastic constants by studying morphological transitions of spherical nematic droplets. We exploit a monodomain- like configuration and the director arrangement in tactoids to shed light on the physics governing the nematic- biphasic transition of lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals. We also confine nematics to toroidal geometries with radial anchoring to delineate the coupling of geometry with the director configuration. Finally, the role of differential polarizability is demonstrated in the accurate determination of order parameters of liquid crystals.