Recent experiments on mixed liquid crystals have highlighted the hugely significant role of ferromagnetic nanoparticle impurities in defining the nematic-smectic-A phase transition point. Structured around a Flory-Huggins free energy of isotropic mixing and Landau-de Gennes free energy, this article presents a phenomenological mean-field model that quantifies the role of such impurities in analyzing thermodynamic phases, in a mixture of thermotropic smectic liquid crystal and ferromagnetic nanoparticles. First we discuss the impact of ferromagnetic nanoparticles on the isotropic-ferronematic and ferronematic-ferrosmectic phase transitions and their transition temperatures. This is followed by plotting and discussing various topologies in the phase diagrams. Our model results indicate that there exists a critical concentration of nanoparticle impurities for which the second order N-SmA transition becomes first order at a tricritical point. Calculations based on this model show remarkable agreement with experiment.
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- liquid crystals
- phase transition