We have developed a model of polymer-dispersed liquid crystal (PDLC) formation by thermally induced phase separation. Spinodal decomposition in the thermoplastic-LC mixture is modelled by the cell dynamical systems method of Oono and Puri, suitably modified to describe a continuous temperature quench. Numerical calculations performed on a two-dimensional system for a composition of 30% LC +70% thermoplastic reveal that the final morphology depends strongly on the quench rate: If cooling is much faster than phase separation, then complete decomposition is precluded, whereas for slower quenches we recover the usual LC-rich droplet pattern of constant-temperature studies. The droplet size distributions are quite broad, and the mean droplet size at a given temperature decreases as a power of the quench rate, consistently with what is observed in real PDLCs.

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Journal J. Chem. Phys.
Citation
Teixeira, P.I.C, & Mulder, B.M. (1996). Numerical simulation of thermally induced phase separation in polymer-dispersed liquid crystals. J. Chem. Phys., 105, 10145–10152.