A Landau model is used to study the phase behavior of the surface layer for magnetic and cholesteric liquid-crystal systems that are at or near a Lifshitz point marking the boundary between modulated and homogeneous bulk phases. The model incorporates surface and bulk fields and includes a term in the free energy proportional to the square of the second derivative of the order parameter in addition to the usual term involving the square of the first derivative. In the limit of vanishing bulk field, three distinct types of surface ordering are possible: a wetting layer, a nonwet layer having a small deviation from bulk order, and a different nonwet layer with a large deviation from bulk order that decays nonmonotonically as the distance from the wall increases. In particular, the large deviation nonwet layer is a feature of systems at the Lifshitz point and also those systems having only homogeneous bulk phases.
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