SOFT MATTER: LIQUID CRYSTALS

Dierking Group
Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester
United Kingdom
GROUP
Dr Ingo Dierking
Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor
Ingo Dierking is heading the Liquid Crystal activities at the School of Physics & Astronomy.

He received his Diploma in Physics in 1992, and his PhD (Dr. rer nat.) at the Institute of Physical Chemistry of Clausthal University of Technology in 1995, joining the IBM T.J. Watson Research Centre in Yorktown Heights, USA, as a postdoc. In 1997 he was awarded a Feodor-Lynen Fellowship of the Humboldt Foundation to work at the Physics Department of Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden, where he was also appointed as Docent for Physics in 1999. Going back to Germany and joining the University of Darmstadt at the Department of Physical Chemistry, Dierking remained until 2002 as a lecturer and receiving his Habilitation for Physical Chemistry, before coming to the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Manchester.

Ingo Dierking is a member of the British Liquid Crystal Society (BLCS) and has been its Treasurer (2010-12), Vice-Chair (2012-13 and 2015-16) and Chairman (2013-15).
He is the Secretary of the International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS) (since 2014), and Editor of the journal Liquid Crystals Today (since 2008), and a member of the editorial board of several other Soft Matter related journals.

He is the 2009 recipient of the Hilsum Medal of the BLCS, and the 2016 recipient of the Samsung Mid Career Award for Research Excellence of the ILCS.  
 
POSTDOCS
We currently have no full time funded PostDocs in the group, but welcome applications of self-funded applicants and holders of stipends. 
Dr Oana Stamatoiu was working in the group as a visitor between January and April 2017. She was investigating the effects of carbon nanotubes on the growth of filament structures in liquid crystals.

Oana will be back to work in Manchester, when she will investigate the influences of nanomaterials on the phase behaviour and properties of thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystals.
STUDENTS / VISITORS

​​Yizhen Shao

​Yizhen represents the interdisciplinary nature of soft matter and liquid crystal research, as he is co-supervised by Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan from Material Science and Dr Ingo Dierking from Physics. Accordingly, Yizhen will carry out part of his work in both schools. The topic of his research is related to graphene oxide and surface modified graphene oxide suspended in lyotropic liquid crystals formed by amphiphilic molecules. He will investigate the phase diagrams of such systems, which largely resembles the mixing of two lyotropic phases formed via different mechanisms. It is anticipated that the investigations shed some light on the interactions between graphene oxide and liquid crystals.  

​​Abdul Bais

​Abdul has joined the group in December 2017 as a PhD student visitor for a period of six months. A chemist by training, he synthesised a whole series of novel compounds before he started his work in Manchester. The planned investigations are to characterize the discotic and swallow-tailed homologous series of compounds with respect to liquid crystalline behaviour, to prepare mixtures of selected compounds with commercially available discotics and study the phase behaviour and properties of such mixtures, and finally to investigate the influence of different nanoparticles on those properties.    
Adam Draude







Adam has joined the group, funded through a studenship of the Graphene-NOWNANO DTC. His research work is covering dispersions of thermotropic liquid crystals with graphene oxide nano- and micro-flakes and their influence on the physical and thermodynamic properties. Particular attention will be devoted to the behaviour at phase transitions, and the formation of lyotropic, colloidal liquid crystals at the clearing temperature.
Tejas Yagnyavalk Kalavalapalli









Tejas is visiting the group during the summer of 2018. He is working on the possibility to stabilize Blue Phases by use of 0D-, 1D- and 2D-carbon nanomaterials. Tejas is from Polymer and Surface Engineering of the Institute of Chemical Engineering in Mumbai.  
Shakhawan Al-Zangana







Shakhawan's research is concerned with the properties of dispersions of nanoparticles in liquid crystals, especially those with added functionality, like ferroelectric polarization or magnetic properties. A large part of his work is also related to the properties of graphene oxide in thermotropic liquid crystals, as well as the formation of lyotropic phases of graphene oxide in different isotropic solvents. A special interest lies in the variation of the average graphene oxide flake size.    
Susumu Yoshida





Susumu has joined the group as an MSc student. He is working on the topic of Ferrofluid - Liquid Crystal Dispersions, where he employed small droplets of a ferrofluid moving through a thermotropic nematic liquid crystal, driven by a magnetic field, to determine the microscopic viscosity, viscosity anisotropy and its temperature dependence. 
Prof Upindranath Singh







Upindranath was a sabbatical visitor in the group, in 2017 from the University of the West Indies, Barbados. He was working on the effect of carbon nanosized dopant on frustrated phases, like Twist Grain Boundary phases and Blue Phases. 
ALUMNI
We are proud of all of our students and that they have all proceeded to successful careers, either in industry or in academia. And of course we are always happy to hear from them again. Below is a list of the former MSc and PhD students, postdocs and long term visitors, their thesis topic and their occupation since we last heard from them.  
Dr Ji Young Oh

PhD Thesis: (2014) Unusual Particle Motion in Liquid Crystal Phases

Ji Young was investigating electrophoresis effects and the stability regimes for circular, linear and random microsphere motion in isotropic, nematic and cholesteric phases, determining their dependence of velocity and circular velocity with respect to applied electric field amplitude and frequency. Similar studies on elongated microcylinders showed even more complex and rich in phenomena in particle motion.

Ji Young is currently working as a researcher for a South Korean beauty and cosmetic company.  
Dr Nicholas Kasch

PhD Thesis: (2014) Liquid Crystal-Polymer Composites and the Stabilization of Defect Phases 

Nicholas explored different ways of widening the temperature range of Blue Phases, which is a question of principle concern for the application of these phases in fast switching display devices via the Kerr effect. One way to proceed is polymer stabilization, but just as well, short chain polymers can be mixed into existing Blue Phases to produce markable stabilization effects. This topic was explored in depth, including a theoretical explanation and the prediction of the applicability of this method also to other frustrated phases, such as Twist Grain Boundary Phases.

Nicholas is now a Scientist at PolyPhotonix developing organic optoelectronic devices.
Nicholas Fowler

MSc Thesis: (2014) Experimental Confirmation of a Kibble-Zurek Scaling Law in a Nematic Liquid Crystal

Nicholas developed a reliable procedure to study the formation of defects in nematic liquid crystals when applying electric fields with varying ramp rates. This enabled him to confirm a scaling mechanism predicted for the transition from a uniform state to a state with varying defect density as the transition is crossed at different rates. In contrast to defect annihilation, it is believed that defect formation has not been studied in liquid crystals before with respect to scaling laws.

Nicholas is now doing a PhD at the University of Manchester in an area of the Life Sciences. 
Dr Thomas Cronin (supervised together with Helen Gleeson and Sharp Laboratories of Europe)

EngD Thesis: (2011) Liquid Crystal Biosensors

Tom designed and caried out experiments to test the feasability of using liquid crystals in biosensors, and studied their resolution and sensitivity in dependence on elastic properties.


Tom is now a Structural Intergrity Engineer at EDF Energy.
Dr Hak Sun Chang (supervised together with Helen Gleeson)

PhD Thesis: (2009) The Stabilization of the Smectic C*alpha Phase

Hak Sun investigated the SmC*alpha for a range of mesogens with slightly varying structural elements, by experimental determination of the full Landau potential across the transitions. From this it was possible to draw conclusions about the mechanism of SmC*alpha stabilization.


​Hak Sun is a Senior Researcher at Samsung in South Korea.
Dr Paul Brimicombe (supervised together with Helen Gleeson on a DTI project with Electrical Engineering, Chemistry and industrial partners). (2009-2010)


Paul was a Postdoc working on a project with the aim to develop a non-optical, RFID readable sensor based on liquid crystals.
Dr Sarabjot Kaur (supervised together with Helen Gleeson on a DTI project with Electrical Engineering, Chemistry and industrial partners). (2008-2009)


Sarabjot was a Postdoc working on a project with the aim to develop a non-optical, RFID readable sensor for the perishable food chain, based on liquid crystals.


​Sarabjot is now a postdoc in the Soft Matter Group at the University of Leeds.
Dr Paul Archer

PhD Thesis: (2006) Determination of the Landau Potential of Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals

Paul was developing a semi-automated setup for the determination of the full Landau Potential of ferroelectric liquid crystals by measuring spontaneaous polarization and tilt angle as a function of both electric field amplitude and temperature through the paraelectric to ferroelectric phase transition. He investigated a range of scenarios, like 1st vs. 2nd order behaviour, variation of chiral dopant and enantiomeric eccess.
Paul then continued as a postdoc from 2006-09, investigating polymer stabilized ferroelectric liquid crystals in a variety of aspects.

Today, Paul is a test and installation manager at Nu Instruments.  
Dr Ho Kei Chan

PhD Thesis: (2007) Growth of Supercooled Liquid Crystals

Ho Kei investigated both experimentally as well as theoretically and by computer simulations the growth of liquid crystals after a temperature quench across the clearing point. He determined how growth laws change between three and two dimensions, and characterized the fractal growth of unconventional liquid crystals.

Ho Kei has been appointed as Assoc. Prof. at the Harbin Institute of Technology in China.
Dr Sait Eren San


Eren was a postdoc in the group for half a year in 2005, working on liquid crystal - carbon nanotube dispersions, driven from a non-conductive to a conductive electric state by application of a magnetic field. Thus, the demonstration of a magnetically steered electric switch on the basis of liquid crystals.


Eren is a professor at Gebze Technical University in Turkey.