The effect of flexibility and bend angle on the phase diagram of hard colloidal boomerangs

Tara Drwenski*, René van Roij

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We study the effect of flexibility and bend angle on systems of hard semiflexible boomerangs. These are modelled as two rodlike segments joined at one end with an angle that can fluctuate about a preferred angle. We use a second-virial theory for semiflexible chains with two segments, and numerically solve for the full orientation distribution function as a function of the four angles that determine the boomerang's orientation. We plot the single segment distributions as a function of two angles as well as the interarm angle distribution. For stiff boomerangs, we find prolate, oblate and biaxial nematic phases depending on the bend angle and density, in partial agreement with previous results on rigid boomerangs. For the case that the preferred interarm angle is 90º, however, we find that the biaxial nematic phase has four-fold rather than two-fold rotational symmetry, and thus requires fourth-rank order parameters to describe it. In addition, we find that flexibility drastically reduces the region of stability for the biaxial nematic phase, with the prolate nematic becoming more favourable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2812-2822
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Physics
Issue number21-22
Publication statusPublished - 17 Nov 2018


  • biaxiality
  • boomerangs
  • colloids
  • flexibility
  • Liquid crystals


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