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Energy-Minimizing Nematic Elastomers

Patricia Bauman

Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
Purdue University

We prove weak lower semi-continuity and existence of energy-minimizers for a free energy describing stable deformations and the corresponding director configuration of an incompressible nematic liquid-crystal elastomer subject to physically realistic boundary conditions. The energy is a sum of the trace formula developed by Warner, Terentjev and Bladon (coupling the deformation gradient and the director field) and the bulk term for the director with coefficients depending on temperature.  A key step in our analysis is to prove that the energy density has a convex extension to non-unit length director fields.

Our results apply to the setting of physical experiments in which a thin incompressible elastomer in R^3 is clamped on its sides and stretched perpendicular to its initial director field, resulting in shape-changes and director re-orientation.

Earlier Event: June 16