Experimental Soft Matter Physics

Statement on diversity

Following the GRC (Gordon Research) Conference on Liquid Crystals Jan, Catherine, JungHyun and Anshul attended this June in Maine, and a seminar on gender inclusion within research labs Jan and Anshul attended, we felt it was necessary to include a statement about this on our website.

We live in polarizing times when it's become easier than ever to ostracize people just because they may think a bit differently, or look a bit differently, from us, but actually these individual traits can help our communities work and think better.

Have a look at our statement under the Team menu under On Diversity & Inclusion.


New Post-Doc! Manos Anyfantakis joins the team


We're happy to welcome our new post-doc: Manos Anyfantakis! He officially joined the ESMP team at the start of July, and will mainly be working on advancing projects related to hydrodynamic flows, kinetic arrest, LC structure formation in the CNC work we have happening. He received his masters applied molecular spectroscopy in 2007, earned a phd in chemistry in Greece in 2010, and has since travelled to Germany and France for postdocs on the wetting of surfactant solutions and optofluidics phenomena before finally joining us in Luxembourg. You can contact Manos via e-mail here.


New Phd Students! Anjali & Shameek

anjali2 shameek2

Welcome to both Anjali (left) and Shameek (right) who have joined our team as phd students starting in July.
Anjali will be working on making LC shells for advancing bio-related projects, while Shameek will be working on finding new polymers for advancing applications related to electrospun LC-fibers.


Ross Volpe visits the ESMP group


We have the pleasure to be hosting Ross Volpe, Ph.D. candidate, from Prof. Christopher Yakacki's group at the University of Denver, Colorado, USA, until August (the longest we've had a guest over yet!).
During his stay, he will mostly work with Rao on further advancing the actuation of micro shells & also start the development on actuating cylinders. We hope that these months will result in a great collaboration!


We hosted the TWISTED Conference!


On May 10-12, 2017, our ESMP group and the Theory of Soft Condensed Matter Group (headed by Prof. Tanja Schilling) organized and held the Twisted Conference, bringing together many of the leaders, and newcomers, in the CNC and lyotropic liquid crystal fields. There were plenty of useful and interesting discussions on the physics, applications, and chemistry of cholesteric LC phases developing in colloidal suspensions of chiral nanorods. We thank all of the participants for actively engaging in our 2nd (ever!) conference we hosted. Another success Happy

twisted group

Pictures for participants may be found our sister site: http://www.lcsoftmatter.com/twisted/, using the password provided by Jan.


We have a group logo now (officially)

We now have an official logo for our group.
We finally have something that succinctly shows what our very multidisciplinary group does in the labs, & studies, on a regular basis.

What do you think?

esmp logo-no background

& thanks to our very own Larry H. for the great design!

Variations of the logo will be available for download by group members on the Internal Site soon.


New review article on liquid crystals in droplets, shells, and fibers released

jpcm g.abs-spinstack copy
The Journal of Physics - Condensed Matter by IOP Publishing has just released our groups' newest review article titled Liquid Crystals in Micron-Scale Droplets, Shells, and Fibers, and it's open access!

(<— Click to check it out)

With careful and succinct discussions of various topics ranging from the characterization of typical liquid crystalline (LC) phases, to the complexities surrounding LC defects under confinement, we're sure that this review will soon become known as one of the "go-to" manuals for both liquid crystal physicists, and chemists; those just beginning in the field, and veteran researchers alike.

In considering the long length of the article, we've carefully sub-sectioned the important works, advancements, and ongoing research contributing to how liquid crystals behave in each of the major curved configurations (i.e. droplets, shells, and fibers). This was done so that anyone interested in knowing more about a particular topic can easily find the right section without having to start reading from the very beginning. At the same time, we include a number of cross-references serving as reminders for the reader to review certain previously described concepts when necessary.

Finally, at the end of each configuration topic we conclude the sections by highlighting the latest research trends which the LC field has shown interest in — for LCs in droplets and shells, it ends with a discussion of active and motile LC systems (inspired by the flocking mechanism in many biological systems) and liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) actuating shells. For LCs in polymer fiber confinement, the section ends with a discussion on textile based gas responsive visual aids, and comparisons to current gas sensing systems.

Here's a brief outline of every section & contents within:

1. Intro
2. The liquid crystalline states of matter
[thermotropic nematics & smectics, order parameter, clarification of terminology for LC orientations, LC deformations & elasticity, cholesterics, LC elastomers (LCEs)]
3. Liquid crystal shells and droplets [microfluidics - what it is, how it works for making LC shells & droplets; issues surrounding interface stabilization & LC alignment control within; topological defects for nematic, cholesteric, smectic droplets and shells; droplet & shell LCE actuatiors; active LC droplets & shells]
4. Core-sheath fibers with encapsulated LC [known behaviors of nematics, smectics, cholesterics in silica cylindrical capillaries; electrospinning basics for inserting LCs into polymer cylindrical (and non-cylindrical) fibers; issues surrounding solvent, polymer concentration and molecular weight choices with particular LCs; various LC molar mass types in polymer fibers; LCE fibers and gas sensing applications]
5. Outlook


Christina Schütz joins the team

Christian Schu¦êtz-2.15.17-esmp blog
We're happy to welcome our new post-doc: Christina Schütz! She officially joined the ESMP team at the start of February, and will mainly be working with Camila on advancing projects related to CNC work. She received her master's from Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg in Germany (the same place where Jan did his habilitation thesis!), and then her PhD in materials chemistry from Stockholm University. Christina joins us for her 2nd post-doc, after spending a year at Wim Thielemans' lab in KU Leuven, Belgium. Happy to have another chemist joining us!

You can contact Christina via e-mail here.


New webmaster for lcsoftmatter.com!

Just sending out a virtual "hi!" as the ESMP group's new webmaster for lcsoftmatter.com.

( <— That's me, Catherine!) Since I enjoy layout designing, I thought I'd give re-vamping our group website a shot. I think it can be very cool for showcasing our groups' unique research, our scientific interests, and our successes together (invited talks, new papers published..etc), more so than it already does. On the technical side, I expect to integrate some more dynamic, and responsive layout functions (to make viewing the site on tablet & mobile on the go a little easier, for example). And, I'll also try to get some more contributions from folks in the group, just so we can hear from them once in a while too.

And don't worry, Jan isn't totally going to disappear from this site! (he is our PI after all) He's just getting his own personal site with all of his lectures up and running now too. Once it's ready I'll announce it on here. If you need to contact him though, you can still send him a message through the Contact page, or through his regular University of Luxembourg email address.

Finally, I just wanted to say that I think 2017 is going to be another great year for our group, full of new ideas & exciting research. It's my hope that the site can actually keep up with all the progress we make too.


*Toodles - A shortened anglicized version of the French phrase:
à tout à l'heure, which generally means "see you later"

New video on the UNIQUE project

Here is a popular information video about the UNIQUE project, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the ESMP group and the group of Dr. Gabriele Lenzini at SnT. The project aims at developing a new type of security token based on liquid crystal shells, which can be used to authenticate persons or valuable objects. Check it out on the YouTube channel of the University of Luxembourg!