Liquid Crystal Microdroplets and confined systems for novel shutters

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


Liquid crystals are not just important for displays, but also for the next generation of photonic devices. They are
already being used to create printable lasers, smart windows, adaptive optics, switchable optical filters and
optical interconnects. This studentship will investigate new geometries of liquid crystal materials with the ultimate
aim of producing fast phase modulators. An area of increasing interest in liquid crystals is the use of droplets of
liquid crystals to contain the material. Although this has been done using polymers for some years now, the use
of liquid crystals in emulsions, shells and aerosols is new. These systems have the potential to produce novel
electro-optic materials where the refractive index is modulated by an applied field. The research will begin by
investigating how to control droplet formation, methods for influencing droplet shape and size, and to investigate
methods for obtaining different liquid crystal structures within the droplets in a controllable fashion.


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Solodkov N (2017) Alignment and electro-optical properties of SmC * with direct transition to N * phases in Molecular Crystals and Liquid Crystals

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Solodkov NV (2019) Self-assembly of fractal liquid crystal colloids. in Nature communications

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Solodkov NV (2020) Electrically Driven Rotation and Nonreciprocal Motion of Microparticles in Nematic Liquid Crystals. in Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany)

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509243/1 01/10/2015 31/12/2021
1723528 Studentship EP/N509243/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Nikita Solodkov
Description First monoclinic permittivity measurements in ferroelectric liquid crystals were made, which has important consequences for device operation in non-display applications (published in Physical Review E). A novel liquid crystal shutter device was investigated, but was determined to have very limited operation. Spontaneous self-assembly of complex colloidal structures in liquid crystal droplet is currently being investigated for creating novel optical structures. Self-assembly of fractal colloidal structures in liquid crystal droplets was discovered (published in Nature Communications). Finally, we investigate rotation and non-reciprocal motion of liquid crystal colloids. We find that the tilt of particles depends on their aspect ratios and that the motion of these particles can be controlled by geometry.
Exploitation Route Reporting to Merck KGaA (industrial sponsor) for developing fast electrical shutters and optical devices for non-display applications.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Other