Spatiotemporal chaos in electroconvection of a homeotropically aligned nematic liquid crystal.


We present patterns of electroconvection (EC) for the homeotropically aligned nematic liquid crystal MBBA. A voltage V = square root of 2V0 sin(2pift) was applied. With increasing V0, the bend Freedericksz transition at VF was followed by the onset of EC at Vc > VF. We found four distinct pattern types. First, a primary supercritical Hopf bifurcation to traveling waves (TW's) of convection rolls occurred. The structure factor S(k) of this state reflected the azimuthal anisotropy of the underlying Freedericksz state. For f < fL approximately 75 Hz there was a superposition of two oblique-roll modes (pattern I). These patterns were chaotic in space and time. For larger f the patterns consisted of chaotic TW normal rolls (pattern II). Here the chaos was attributable to the motion of dislocations and domain walls between left- and right-traveling waves. A secondary bifurcation yielded pattern III; it had no dominant TW frequency but had broadband chaotic dynamics dominated by the motion of dislocations. This pattern type had been referred to by others as a "chevron pattern;" its structure factor still revealed azimuthal anisotropy. Finally, at somewhat larger identical with epsilon = V2/Vc2 -1 a highly disordered pattern IV with defect dynamics was found. This state had been studied before by Kai and co-workers and was referred to by them as "phase turbulence." It had a structure factor that was (within our resolution) invariant under rotation. For patterns I, II, and III, S(k) contained crescent-shaped peaks. The peak shape was qualitatively different from the case of planar EC where the structure factor has an elliptical cross section. We present measurements of the widths 1/xik and 1/xitheta in the radial (k) and the azimuthal (theta) directions. For small epsilon (patterns I and II) we found that xik was consistent with the usual Ginzburg-Landau scaling xik approximately epsilon(-nuk) with nuk approximately 1/2. However, for xitheta we found xitheta approximately epsilon(-nutheta) with nutheta approximately 3/4. Presumably this anomalous scaling of xitheta is associated with the Goldstone mode of homeotropic EC. We also show data for the height S0 of the structure factor that are consistent with S0 approximately epsilonbeta with beta approximately -0.5, implying that S0 diverges at onset. This differs from the case of domain chaos in rotating Rayleigh-Bénard convection where experiment is consistent with beta = 1/2 and thus with a vanishing S0. The difference between the shape of the structure-factor cross section and between the exponents, for the present case, for planar EC, and for domain chaos suggests that there are different universality classes for spatiotemporal chaos.

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@article{Zhou2006SpatiotemporalCI, title={Spatiotemporal chaos in electroconvection of a homeotropically aligned nematic liquid crystal.}, author={S. Qingbo Zhou and Guenter Ahlers}, journal={Physical review. E, Statistical, nonlinear, and soft matter physics}, year={2006}, volume={74 4 Pt 2}, pages={046212} }