skip to main content


Title: Generalized liquid crystals: Giant fluctuations and the vestigial chiral order of I , O , and T matter

Here, the physics of nematic liquid crystals has been the subject of intensive research since the late 19th century. However, the focus of this pursuit has been centered around uniaxial and biaxial nematics associated with constituents bearing a D ∞h or D 2h symmetry, respectively. In view of general symmetries, however, these are singularly special since nematic order can in principle involve any point-group symmetry. Given the progress in tailoring nanoparticles with particular shapes and interactions, this vast family of “generalized nematics” might become accessible in the laboratory. Little is known because the order parameter theories associated with the highly symmetric point groups are remarkably complicated, involving tensor order parameters of high rank. Here, we show that the generic features of the statistical physics of such systems can be studied in a highly flexible and efficient fashion using a mathematical tool borrowed from high-energy physics: discrete non-Abelian gauge theory. Explicitly, we construct a family of lattice gauge models encapsulating nematic ordering of general three-dimensional point-group symmetries. We find that the most symmetrical generalized nematics are subjected to thermal fluctuations of unprecedented severity. As a result, novel forms of fluctuation phenomena become possible. In particular, we demonstrate that a vestigial phasemore » carrying no more than chiral order becomes ubiquitous departing from high point-group symmetry chiral building blocks, such as I, O, and T symmetric matter.« less
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. Leiden (The Netherlands)
  2. SLAC National Accelerator Lab. and Stanford Univ., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Physical Review. X
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2160-3308
American Physical Society
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1348937