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Some Important Announcements

Our Current ESMP Team

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Emmanouil (‘Manos’) Anyfantakis

Post-doc Researcher
Manos earned his MSc in applied molecular spectroscopy after writing a thesis on the thermodynamics and phase behavior of organosilica nanoparticles. He earned his PhD in Chemistry in 2010 at the Univ. of Crete & FORTH, in Greece where he investigated light-induced pattern formation in polymer solutions. More Info
Flow phenomena effects on CNC film formation
During his phd studies, Manos spent one year in MPIP, Mainz, Germany, in the group of H.-J. Butt. Following his military service, Manos returned to MPIP as a postdoc in 2011, to explore the dynamic wetting of surfactant solutions. In 2013, Manos joined the group of D. Baigl at ENS, Paris, France where he initiated projects concerning various optofluidic and patterning phenomena, in part thanks to an independent Marie-Curie Intra-European Fellowship that he was awarded.

Manos became a member of the ESMP group in July 2017, and is exploring how simultaneously occurring phenomena (e.g. hydrodynamic flows, kinetic arrest, LC structure formation) affect the structure of films formed after the evaporation of cellulose nanocrystal dispersions.

Lionel Fru

M.Sc. Student Intern
Lionel is currently a masters student studying physics at the University of Luxembourg. He is studying the process of film formation from evaporating sessile droplets of aqueous suspensions of CNCs under the direction of Manos.
Effect of substrate properties (e.g. wettability, surface charge) on the morphology & optics of CNC films

Lawrence (aka Larry) Honaker

PhD Candidate
Larry got his M.S. in Chemical Physics from the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University in Kent, OH (USA), working primarily with biological sensing at liquid crystal interfaces. Presently, he works on the jetting of liquid metals in co-flowing systems with a view to their incorporation into polymer fibers under the AFR project LIMEFLOW. More Info
Liquid metal behaviors in polymer solutions & surface tension of LCs using microfluidics; LIMEFLOW Project
+352 46 66 44 6928
During his Master’s studies, he was invited to travel to Seoul National University in the summer of 2013, where Jan was at the time, to participate in a collaborative NSF-IRES program. The program involved the development of responsive and smart textiles through electrospinning.

After Jan moved to Luxembourg, Larry learned about the grants available through the Luxembourg Research Foundation and applied for a grant to work on his Ph.D. This allowed him to work towards the production of liquid metal-core fibers using electrospinning, for example. He was awarded an AFR grant in June 2015 and moved to Luxembourg in October of the same year to begin his Ph.D. project.

Camila Honorato

PhD Candidate
Camila makes CNCs (cellulose nanocrystals) suspended in water, and studies their lyotropic liquid crystal self-assembly and its competition with the tendency of the nanorods to get stuck in a jammed state. She is working on the FNR-funded project MISONANCE.
CNC self-assembly into lyotropic liquid crystal phases; MISONANCE Project
+352 46 66 44 6499

Venkata Subba Rao (‘Rao’) Jampani

Post-doc Researcher
Rao graduated in Engineering Physics from the National Institute of Technology, Warangal, India in 2009 and obtained his PhD in Physics from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia in 2013. After his PhD, Rao worked as a postdoc at Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization Göttingen, Germany and the soft matter research team, CEMS, RIKEN, in Wako-shi, Japan. More Info
LC elastomer shell synthesis using micofluidics & applications for soft-robotics; INTERACT Project
His research focuses on topological defects in liquid crystal elastomeric shells and their applications, and liquid crystal shells, droplets and their self-assembly.

Rao now works mainly on liquid crystal elastomers (LCE) shells and their applications in soft-robotics using microfluidics platform. He also works on studying optical and topological defects in shells in order to exploit them as a novel components for next generation LC science. He is working on the ERC funded project "INTERACT".
+352 46 66 44 6349

Rijeesh Kizhakidathazhath

Post-doc Researcher
+352 46 66 44 64 80
Rijeesh earned his Ph.D. in Life Science from Hokkaido University, Japan under the guidance of Prof. Nobuyuki Tamaoki with the thesis entitled “Dynamic induction of enantiomeric excess from a prochiral azobenzene dimer under circularly polarized light”. He was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the group of Prof. Hirotsugu Kikuchi at Kyushu University, Japan and his research focused on the development of high-performance liquid crystal / polymer composites using unique molecular designs. He joined the ESMP group in June 2018 and is currently working on the production of polymerizable cholesteric liquid crystal shells for making authentication or reflector tags. He is also focusing on the preparation of cholesteric liquid crystal elastomers for the applications in LC-based wearable technology.
The production of polymerizable cholesteric liquid crystal shells for making authentication or reflector tags.

Jan Lagerwall

PI & Group Leader
Jan leads the Experimental Soft Matter Physics (ESMP) group. Check out his personal website below for details.
Teaching, advising, helping us (his group) publish papers & be better researchers
+352 46 66 44 6219

Nikolay Popov

PhD Candidate
Nikolay received his M.S. in physical chemistry of nanomaterials from Ivanovo State University in Russia where he conducted research on the development of chemical and biological sensors based on liquid crystal films in the N. V. Usol’tseva lab. Nikolay joined the ESMP group as a doctoral researcher in August 2018 and his current project aims to generate tube-shaped liquid crystal elastomer actuators for biomedical applications. These actuators have the potential to be used in soft robotics, biotechnology, dynamic architecture, and responsive design
Extended organoid core life by elastomeric liquid crystal tubes in culture.

Catherine G. Reyes

PhD Candidate
Catherine uses coaxial electrospinning to produce responsive fibers functionalized with liquid crystals in the core. She also studies the complex relationships between LC & polymer solutions when exposed to the spinning process. The ultimate aim to use these LC-fibers in autonomous wearable tech. devices. She is working on the ERC funded INTERACT project. More Info
LC-polymer fiber production via electrospinning & studying their defects + optical properties; INTERACT Project
+352 46 66 44 6784
Prior to coming to Luxembourg to start her phd, Catherine worked on electrospinning nylon membranes for aerosol capture as part of her masters thesis in fiber science at Cornell University. She obtained her bachelors degree in chemistry at Cornell as well, and interned at the NYPD forensics laboratory in NYC during that time.

That internship was her first exposure to polarized light microscopy, fibers and polymers (quite useful in the end!).

Christina Schütz

Post-doc Researcher
Christina obtained her PhD in materials chemistry from Stockholm University in Sweden. She is exploring the surface modification, and self-assembly of cellulose nanocrystals. She is also investigating the competing nature between the thermotropic and lyotropic liquid crystalline phase behaviors. More Info
Investigations on CNC self assembly & their corresponding lyotropic & thermotropic LC phase behaviors
After her phd, she worked for one year as a post-doc at KU Leuven in Belgium.

Her research interests are in developing a deeper understanding of the self-assembly processes with stronger insights in soft matter physics and physical chemistry.

Vanessa Schmidt-Barbé

Group Assistant
Vanessa is the group’s secretary who helps us balance our budgets & with purchasing all of our equipment (extremely important!)
+352 46 66 44 6891

Andy Schanen

M.Sc. Student Intern
Andy is a Physics Master student under the direction of Larry. He is studying equilibrium and dynamic interfacial tension measurements between aqueous surfactant solutions and liquid crystals. He is working towards the automation of this process using image analysis techniques.
Microfluidics for Measuring the Interfacial Tensions of Liquid Crystals

Anjali Sharma

PhD Candidate
Before joining the ESMP group in July 2017, Anjali had worked on the characterization of thermotropic liquid crystals. Her PhD project now is to create liquid crystal shells and to use them for bio-sensing applications. 
+352 46 66 44 5170
LC shell production & tuning defects using microfluidics for bio-sensing applications; MASSENA Project

Zornitza ('Zory') Tosheva

Research Associate
+352 46 66 44 6332
Zory is involved in several projects of the ESMP group, her current main focus being on cellulose nanocrystal (CNC) self-assembly.
CNC self assembly & film production

Ursa Ursic

Urša is a bachelors student studying physics at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is doing a six-month-internship with ESMP group. She is working mainly with Rao on a custom-made dual confocal microscope. The aim is to obtain controlled polymerisation on reactive mesogens dispersed in the nematic liquid crystal shell using UV laser.
Study of topological defect transformations in LC shells using a dual confocal microscope for controlled polymerisation.

Shameek Vats

PhD Candidate
+352 46 66 44 5316
Shameek earned his bachelors degree in polymer science from the University of Delhi and his masters from Tampere University of Technology in Finland. He previously has worked on polymer fibers and materials characterization. He joined the ESMP group in July 2017 to also work on the INTERACT project. He is working on finding suitable textile-grade like polymers for further stabilizing liquid crystal cores in electrospun LC-fiber mats.
LC fiber production using various polymers for increasing fiber mat stability; INTERACT Project