Rafael S. Zola, Giovani Barbero, Lelids L., Michely P. Rosseto, Luiz R. Evangelista.

Liquid Crystals – Volume: 44; Issue:1 ; Pages: 24-30; DOI: 10.1080/02678292.2016.1229054

The recently discovered twist-bend nematic phase, N-tb, is a non-uniform equilibrium nematic phase that presents a spontaneous bend with a precession of the nematic director, n, on a conical helix with a tilt angle theta and helical pitch P. The stability of the N-tb phase has been recently demonstrated from the elastic point of view by extending the Frank elastic energy density of the nematic phase to include the symmetry element of the helical axis, t. In the present article, we investigate the influence of an external bulk field (magnetic or electric) on the N-tb phase. Using symmetry arguments we derive the expression forthe flexoelectric polarisation in twist-bend nematic phases. We show that, besides the standard contribution related to the spatial variation of the nematicdirector, two new contributions connected with the existence of the helical axis appear. In the ground state, where the nematic deformation is a pure heliconical deformation, the new contribution vanishes identically, and the total flexoelectric polarisation is perpendicular to the nematic director. Furthermore, as an example, we study the role of an external magnetic field applied parallel to the helical axis for a material with positive magnetic susceptibility anisotropy. We show that the field modifies the range of values of the coupling parameter between the director and the helical axis, thus shifting the interval of values for which this coupling results in the N-tb phase.