Electric-field-induced unwinding of ferroelectric helix in thin smectic C* layers with soft and rigid anchoring of molecules
The unwinding of a helical structure in thin films of a ferroelectric smectic liquid crystal (LC) by an external electric field has been theoretically studied using a discrete model in which every LC layer is characterized by a two-dimensional vector ξ i (describing the orientation of molecules) and by the polarization P i . It is established that the unwinding of the LC helix in thin films significantly differs from the well-known behavior of thick samples. In particular, discrete intermediate states (differing by an integer or half-integer number of turns) are formed in thin films for both weak and strong anchoring of molecules to a substrate surface. The physical factor responsible for this behavior is the presence of near-surface regions with thicknesses below the helix pitch and the corresponding uncompensated polarization.