California Institute of Technology
Abstract: The relaxation of a free-energy functional which describes the order-strain interaction in nematic elastomers is obtained explicitly. We work in the regime of small strains (linearized kinematics). Adopting the uniaxial order tensor theory (Frank model) to describe the liquid crystal order, we prove that the minima of the relaxed functional exhibit an effective biaxial nematic texture, as in the de Gennes order tensor model. In particular, this implies that, at a sufficiently macroscopic scale, the response of the material is soft even if the order of the system is assumed to be fixed at the microscopic scale. The relaxed energy density satisfies a solenoidal quasiconvexification formula.