Research objectives and content
The objective of this research project is to determine an efficient route to the calculation of the elastic constants of nematic liquid crystals from computer simulation data. We shall study the effect of fundamental molecular interactions, such as the position and the orientation of a dipole, on the absolute and the relative magnitude of the elastic constants. This will enable us to obtain information on how the microscopic anisotropy in the intermolecular forces influence the macroscopic change in energy as a liquid crystal is bent, splayed or twisted. We are also interested in transferring the techniques used to calculate the elastic constants for bulk liquid crystals to model membrane systems. This will give us novel information on the elasticity of membranes and, therefore, on the natural shapes of cells and viruses.
Training content (objective, benefit and expected impact)
The majority of my work on liquid crystals has been performed using standard simulation techniques. I expect to gain experience of modern simulation techniques for studying a wider range of problems in condensed matter physics and the statistical mechanics of such systems.