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Convergence of a fully discrete finite element method for a degenerate parabolic system modelling nematic liquid crystals withvariable degree of orientation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 February 2006

John W. Barrett
Department of Mathematics, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ, UK.
Xiaobing Feng
Department of Mathematics, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.
Andreas Prohl
Department of Mathematics, ETH, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland.
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We consider a degenerate parabolic system which models the evolution of nematic liquid crystal with variable degree of orientation. The system is a slight modification to that proposed in [Calderer et al., SIAM J. Math. Anal.33 (2002) 1033–1047], which is a special case of Ericksen's general continuum model in [Ericksen, Arch. Ration. Mech. Anal.113 (1991) 97–120]. We prove the global existence of weak solutions by passing to the limit in a regularized system. Moreover, we propose a practical fully discrete finite element method for this regularized system, and we establish the (subsequence) convergence of this finite element approximation to the solution of the regularized system as the mesh parameters tend to zero; and to a solution of the original degenerate parabolic system when the the mesh and regularization parameters all approach zero. Finally, numerical experiments are included which show the formation, annihilation and evolution of line singularities/defects in such models.

Research Article
© EDP Sciences, SMAI, 2006

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