Gamma-convergent projection-free finite element methods for nematic liquid crystals: The Ericksen model

by   Ricardo H. Nochetto, et al.

The Ericksen model for nematic liquid crystals couples a director field with a scalar degree of orientation variable, and allows the formation of various defects with finite energy. We propose a simple but novel finite element approximation of the problem that can be implemented easily within standard finite element packages. Our scheme is projection-free and thus circumvents the use of weakly acute meshes, which are quite restrictive in 3D but are required by recent algorithms for convergence. We prove stability and Γ-convergence properties of the new method in the presence of defects. We also design an effective nested gradient flow algorithm for computing minimizers that controls the violation of the unit-length constraint of the director. We present several simulations in 2D and 3D that document the performance of the proposed scheme and its ability to capture quite intriguing defects.



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