Dierking Group
Physics and Astronomy, University of Manchester
United Kingdom
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.  
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.
​​Dowon Baek

​Dowon is an undegraduate student who comes to the lab once or twice a week in his spare time to work on a project about smectic A focal conics and Apollonius tiling. 
​​Yuan Shen

​Yuan Shen has just started his PhD studies in September 2018 and will be investigating the effect of a range of diverse nanoparticles of varying size and shape on the phase stability, physical properties and electrooptic behaviour of thermotropic liquid crystals phases, such as nematics, fluid smectics especially ferroelectric liquid crystals, and defect phases like the Blue Phase. He is funded for four years by the China Scholarship Council - University of Manchester Joint Scholarship Programme. 
​​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 will 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.

After having submitted his thesis, Abdul is now back to continue his work for another six months until April 2019.   
Adam Draude

Adam has joined the group in 2018, 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 the Polymer and Surface Engineering of the Institute of Chemical Engineering in Mumbai. His work has already been featured as Liquid Crystal Art of the Month July 2018 by the International Liquid Crystal Society (ILCS).   
Guanchen Peng

Guanchen is working in the group as a summer student during the 2018 year. He has recently received a 1st degree from the University of Manchester and is gathering some experience before starting a PhD at Imperial later this year. His research is related to the investigation of topological defects in liquid crystals and their defect annihilation dynamics in capillaries.  
Bianca Marcucci

Bianca is a fourth year student from our School and has been awarded a Student Experience Internship for carrying out research to investigate the structure and dynamics of growing Myelin figures. During the summer of 2018, we will try and understand the complex formation of such lyotropic structures and hope to demonstrate the growth laws of individual Myelin filaments in relation to thermotropic liquid crystals.  
Samuel Burford-Eyre

Sam is a third year student from our School and spends the summer 2018 on research into higher ordered phases, especially the dielectric and conductive properties of achiral fluid smectic, hexatic smectic and crystalline smectic phases, SmA, SmB, and SmE.   
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. 
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.  
Susumu Yoshida

MSc Thesis: (2018) Liquid Crystals-Ferrofluid Dispersion

Susumu had joined the group as an MSc student. He was working on the topic of Liquid Crystal - Ferrofluid emulsions, 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. 

Susumu is now a researcher with the Robert Bosch GmbH, a multinational engineering and electronics company.
Shakhawan Al-Zangana

PhD Thesis: (2017) Nano- and Micro-particle doped Liquid Crystals

Shakhawan's research was 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.   

Shakhawan is now at the Colledge of Education of the University of Garmian, Iraq. 
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.

Nicholas is now a Research Scientist at Big Solar in the Power Roll Ltd team developing low-cost, flexible solar cells.
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 an Internal Consultant at Ab Initio Softwar Ltd., a multinational corporation specializing in high-volume data processing.

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.

​She is now a researcher with Merck UK.
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.