Unusual geometric percolation of hard nanorods in the uniaxial nematic liquid crystalline phase

Shari P. Finner, Arshia Atashpendar, Tanja Schilling, Paul van der Schoot

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7 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


We investigate by means of continuum percolation theory and Monte Carlo simulations how spontaneous uniaxial symmetry breaking affects geometric percolation in dispersions of hard rodlike particles. If the particle aspect ratio exceeds about 20, percolation in the nematic phase can be lost upon adding particles to the dispersion. This contrasts with percolation in the isotropic phase, where a minimum particle loading is always required to obtain system-spanning clusters. For sufficiently short rods, percolation in the uniaxial nematic mimics that of the isotropic phase, where the addition of particles always aids percolation. For aspect ratios between 20 and infinity, but not including infinity, we find reentrance behavior: percolation in the low-density nematic may be lost upon increasing the amount of nanofillers but can be regained by the addition of even more particles to the suspension. Our simulation results for aspect ratios of 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 strongly support our theoretical predictions, with almost quantitative agreement. We show that a different closure of the connectedness Ornstein-Zernike equation, inspired by scaled particle theory, is as least as accurate in predicting the percolation threshold as the Parsons-Lee closure, which effectively describes the impact of many-body direct contacts.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062129
Number of pages13
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2019


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