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New Bachelors Student Joins!

Welcome to our new bachelors student - Joana!

She will be learning microfluidic LC shell production and be working with Rao for the next few months Happy



GLCC @ Luxembourg is Fast Approaching!


The conference abstract booklets are all printed & ready to be distributed next week! Be sure to check the site: for updates, confirm meal selections, & know poster #s in advance. See you there!


New Paper in Materials by MDPI Journals

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 16.38.38
(Click the graphical abstract above to read the article online, it is Open-Access)

to Anshul & Jan on the publication in Materials: “Electrospun Composite Liquid Crystal Elastomer Fibers”!

This is the first study to date that shows and analyzes the irreversible actuation of photo-crosslinkable reactive mesogens single axially electrospun with a carrier polymer, to create liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) fibers. Don't forget to check out the supplementary info for more details!


New Paper in J. of Molecular Liquids

(Click the figure image above to access the article online, please email Jan if you cannot download the pdf file)

to JungHyun & Rao on the publication in the Journal of Molecular Liquids titled: “Sub-second dynamic phototuning of alignment in azodendrimer-doped nematic liquid crystal shells”!

For the 1st time(!!), a study documents the photoswitching of azodendrimer in liquid crystal shells produced by microfluidics. Ultimately, our group members & colleagues find that phase separation may occur in shells when the dendrimer is in the trans ground state, and that photo switching turns such shells uniform - further indicating that the cis state is better soluble in the LC.

Hooray for the good start to the 2018 year Laugh

(Fyi - Also, I think this paper is the 1st to show results obtained from our new confocal microscope as well…so HD, so cool)


New Langmuir Paper Released Online


(Click the graphical abstract image above to access the article online, please email either Jan or Rao if you cannot download the pdf file)

Congratulations to Larry & Rao on the publication in Langmuir titled: “Microfluidic Tensiometry Technique for the Characterization of the Interfacial Tension between Immiscible Liquids”!

This is Larry's 1st paper in our group (!) and also Rao's 1st time serving as last author on a paper (!)

In this study, Larry and Rao borrow inspiration from the biologists and use the novel technique of micropipette aspiration (commonly used to measure the viscoelastic properties of living cells) to measure the interfacial tension of 5CB, water, and surfactants with a high degree of accuracy (from the sub-millinewton per meter to several hundred millinewton per meter range) solely from experimental observations of the droplet deformation. This is highly unique as information on the liquid density is not needed to find the interfacial tension.


JPCM Review on LCs in Shells, Droplets & Fibers Makes IOP's 2017 Highlights!

Awesome email to get:

2017 highlights email 2 2

Our review on LCs in Droplets, Shells & Fibers got selected for the 2017 highlights list by IOP Publishing!! Yes mega Congrats to our team!!

Thanks to everyone who also read &/or downloaded our article.
We put a lot of effort into trying to make a review as comprehensive, and as accurate, for those outside and in our fields as possible.

If you want to check the highlights click here (Category is: Soft matter, biophysics and liquids) -


Work in Progress - New website layout transfer is in bug fixing mode

Special Note - Transferring blog entries from previous layout.
Apologies for some errors while thew new site is getting updated.

Look out for new fixes in the new year.
See you in 2018! Happy



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!

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

( <— 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"

Hakam Agha joins the team

We have the great pleasure of welcoming Dr. Hakam Agha into the ESMP team. He will be working as a post-doc with us and with the LC Nano group of Giusy Scalia for at least six months, hopefully more. He got his Ph.D. in physics from the University of Strasbourg and was most recently working as post-doc with Christian Bahr and Stefan Herminghaus at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization in Göttingen. You can contact Hakam via e-mail here.


Dirk Jan Mulder visits the ESMP group

We have the pleasure of hosting Dirk Jan Mulder, Ph.D. candidate in the group of Prof. Albert Schenning, Technical University of Eindhoven, during November. Dirk Jan is working on microfluidic liquid crystal elastomer shell production together with Rao and Kevin (see action pictures from the yellow lab), and also on porous shell production together with JungHyun.

ESMP group at the Luxembourg Science Festival

The Experimental Soft Matter Physics group will participate in the Luxembourg Science Festival, during the sessions for school classes on Thursday 12th and Friday 13th of November. We will exhibit a show on polarized light and birefringence, and how observation between crossed polarizers can be used to reveal information about materials that is hidden to the naked eye, like where stresses build up and whether or not an anisotropic order exists on macroscopic scale.

We will be in the "Tente parvis", at workshop 38: "Lumière fantastique!".

Yong Geng joins as post-doc

It is our great pleasure to welcome Yong Geng to our group as a post-doc. After obtaining his Ph.D. with Prof. Maria Helena Godinho in Lisbon he worked as a post-doc with Prof. Ralf Stannarius and Dr. Alexey Eremin in Magdeburg, before he came to Luxembourg. He will be working on colloidal crystals of cholesteric shells, produced in a microfluidic set-up, focusing on the optical properties and the pattern formation of these systems. This research is the core of the interdisciplinary dual-PI project UNIQUE, funded by University of Luxembourg. The second partner of the project is the team around Gabriele Lenzini and Peter Ryan at the UL's Interdisciplinary Center for Security and Trust, which will analyze the patterns generated by the colloids from an information content point of view. Young will thus interact closely with Samir Ouchani, a post-doc in computer science working under the guidance of Gabriele.

Visitors from the USA

Also this summer we have the pleasure to host three students from the USA, within the framework of an NSF-funded IRES program devoted to liquid crystal fibers and filaments, headed by Prof. Tony Jakli at Kent State University (co-PIs are Prof. Margaret Frey, Cornell, and Prof. John West, Kent State University). This year our visitors are Emily Kerr, Aditi Naik and Vanessa Sanchez. Here you see them enjoying Luxembourgish Flammkuchen together with Jan and Catherine (who is the local group member working the most with them during their stay).

Kevin defends his B.Sc. thesis

Congrats to Kevin for defending his B.Sc. thesis entitled "Topological Defects in Liquid Crystal Shells" very successfully. Kevin did a great job while he was with us and we hope that his and JungHyun's research efforts will soon be summarized in a new paper.

Kevin Reguengo de Sousa joins the group

Kevin Reguengo de Sousa, undergraduate student in the University of Luxembourg physics program, will be carrying out his thesis work with the group during the fall. He will work together with JungHyun on liquid crystal shells.

Catherine Reyes joins the group

It is with great pleasure that we welcome our new Ph.D. candidate, Catherine Reyes, coming from Cornell University where she carried out her Master studies with Prof. Margaret Frey. Catherine should have arrived already in September but the paper work for allowing a US citizen and Cornell graduate to start as Ph.D. candidate in Luxembourg turned out to be beyond our wildest imagination… Anyway, she is finally here and she will be working full time on liquid crystal-funcationalized electrospun fibers for wearable technology.

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.


We're hosting the next German Liquid Crystal Conference in March 2018!

We are officially hosting the 45th German Liquid Crystal Conference this coming March 2018!


This will be a two-day conference on the physics, chemistry, applications & any other aspects of liquid crystals, held at the University of Luxembourg from March 21-23, 2018.

This is exciting for our group because it's going to be the 3rd time we host an international conference & it will be the largest one we've done yet. We are currently in close collaborations with groups in Belgium, the Netherlands, & France (note: this is not in competition with the the current French LC & soft matter society meetings).

Please check out the website for registration below!

Also, our Facebook Page for frequent updates for this year's meeting @

(FYI - Early bird deadline for registration and payment is
16th of February 2018!)

Hope to see you for fun talks on LCs in good ole Lux. this coming March!


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:, using the password provided by Jan.