Domain walls in vertically vibrated monolayers of cylinders confined in annuli

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American Physical Society
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Liquid-crystalline ordering in vertically vibrated granular monolayers confined in annuli of different sizes is examined. The annuli consist of circular cavities with a central circular obstruction. In the absence of the central obstruction cylinders of low aspect-ratio exhibit tetratic order, except for the existence of four defects which restore the symmetry broken by the circular confinement. This behaviour is demanded by topology in systems with strong anchoring properties at the surface. By contrast, topology dictates that the annular geometry is compatible with a distorted tetratic phase without point defects. However, the effect of restricted geometry and limited size on phases possessing finite anchoring energy at the wall and elastic stiffness leads to different configurations, showing finite ordered regions separated by domain walls. We argue that highly packed nonequilibrium vibrated granular monolayers respond to geometrical frustration and extreme confinement as corresponding equilibrium systems of particles do, and that the former can be analysed in terms of surface free energies, elastic distortions and defects, much as equilibrium liquid crystals. Therefore, selective confinement of vertically-vibrated monolayers of rods could be used with advantage as a new tool to study the creation and dynamics of various types of defects in ordered systems.
Liquid crystals, Topological defects
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Physical Review Research, (2020), 2(3), 033436, pp.: 1-11.