G. Barbero, L. R. Evangelista, P. Rosseto R. S. Zola e I. Lelidis

PHYSICAL REVIEW E – Volume: 92; Number article: 030501; DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevE.92.030501; 2015

The twist-bend nematic phase, NTB , may be viewed as a heliconical molecular arrangement in which the director n precesses uniformly about an extra director field, t. It corresponds to a nematic ground state exhibiting nanoscale periodic modulation. To demonstrate the stability of this phase from the elastic point of view, a natural extension of the Frank elastic energy density is proposed. The elastic energy density is built in terms of the elements of symmetry of the new phase in which intervene the components of these director fields together with the usual Cartesian tensors. It is shown that the ground state corresponds to a deformed state for which K22 > K33. In the framework of the model, the phase transition between the usual and the twist-bend nematic phase is of second order with a finite wave vector. The model does not require a negative K33 in agreement with recent experimental data that yield K33 > 0. A threshold is predicted for the molecular twist power below which no transition to a twist-bend nematic may occur.