H. H. Wensink and Anda, M. L., “Elastic moduli of a smectic membrane: a rod-level scaling analysis”, JOURNAL OF PHYSICS-CONDENSED MATTER, vol. 30, p. 075101, 2018.Abstract
Chiral rodlike colloids exposed to strong depletion attraction may self-assemble into chiral membranes whose twisted director field differs from that of a 3D bulk chiral nematic. We formulate a simple microscopic variational theory to determine the elastic moduli of rods assembled into a bidimensional smectic membrane. The approach is based on a simple Onsager-Straley theory for a non-uniform director field that we apply to describe rod twist within the membrane. A microscopic approach enables a detailed estimate of the individual Frank elastic moduli (splay, twist and bend) as well as the twist penetration depth of the smectic membrane in relation to the rod density and shape. We find that the elastic moduli are distinctly different from those of a bulk nematic fluid, with the splay elasticity being much stronger and the curvature elasticity much weaker than for rods assembled in a three-dimensional nematic fluid. We argue that the use of the simplistic one-constant approximation in which all moduli are assumed to be of equal magnitude is not appropriate for modelling the structure-property relation of smectic membranes.