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The limits of flexoelectricity in liquid crystals
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The flexoelectric conversion of mechanical to electrical energy in nematic liquid crystals is investigated using continuum theory. Since the electrical energy produced cannot exceed the mechanical energy supplied, and vice-versa, upper bounds are imposed on the magnitudes of the flexoelectric coefficients in terms of the elastic and dielectric coefficients. For conventional values of the elastic and dielectric coefficients, it is shown that the flexoelectric coefficients may not be larger than a few tens of pC/m. This has important consequences for the future use of such flexoelectric materials in devices and the related energetics of distorted equilibrium structures.
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