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Our Current ESMP Team

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Hakam Agha

Postdoctoral Researcher
+352 46 66 44 6472
Hakam earned his Bachelor’s degree from the Lebanese University in Beirut, and his Masters degree from Henri Poincaré university in Nancy France (currently known as University of Lorraine). He later earned his PhD in material science from the university of Strasbourg in France under the guidance of Prof. Yves Galerne in 2013. More Info
Afterwards, he joined the group of Dr. Christian Bahr as a postdoctoral researcher in Max-Planck-Institute for Dynamics and Self-organization in Göttingen, Germany, where he studied liquid crystals flow in PDMS based microfluidics. Currently Hakam is working in our group on a project funded by the Office of Naval Research Global (ONRG) where he is investigating the optical behaviour of cholesteric liquid crystal droplets for object detection.
LAB’RINTH; Liquid crystal-bead reflectors illuminating the needle in the haystack.

Majdi Assaid

Bachelor Student
Majdi will be studying light scattering from polymers templated from cholesteric liquid crystals, after they are immersed in transparent media of different refractive indices. In particular, he will focus on cholesterics with short enough pitch to selectively reflect light in the ultraviolet (UV) spectrum, as well as long enough pitch for the selective reflection to be in the infrared (IR) spectrum.

Emmanouil (‘Manos’) Anyfantakis

Postdoctoral 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.

Yong Geng

Postdoctoral Researcher
Yong received his Bachelor and Master degrees in Physics from China, and then his PhD in 2013 in materials science from New University of Lisbon, Portugal, in the group of Prof. Maria Helena Godinho, where he did a short post-doc as well. After that he did a one-year post-doc in Prof. Ralf Stannarius’s group in Magdeburg University and worked with Alexey Eremi, during which he had a chance to spend two months in Wigner Research Centre for Physics in Hungary and collaborated with Dr. Tamás Börzsönyl and Dr. Péter Salamon, funded by COST ic1208. More info
Selective reflections from cholesteric liquid crystal shells.
From July 2015 to September 2017, he worked as post-doc in our group, mainly focusing on the studying of selective reflections from cholesteric liquid crystal shells. Now he is back and will continue the work he previously worked on. His research interest covers ordering- disordering process of polymers and liquid crystals, phase transitions; Optical properties of cholesteric liquid crystals; microfluidics; liquid crystalline networks; self-assembly of functional polymers, liquid crystals and particles.

+352 46 66 44 4994

Rijeesh Kizhakidathazhath

Postdoctoral 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


PhD Candidate
Xu earned her master degree on science in physics at university of Luxembourg. Now she will continue in our group for her PhD study. She worked on “Spontaneous adsorption and self-organization of colloid particles at fluid interfaces” before. Currently, she is working on using electrospray and controlled phase separation guided by confinement in droplets to make Cholesteric Spherical Reflectors (CSRs).
ECLIPSE Project: Using electrospray and controlled phase separation to make Cholesteric Spherical Reflectors (CSRs)


PhD Candidate
Najiya earned her Masters from Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali in India. Before joining ESMP group, she worked on liquid crystal (LC) bio sensing, Synthesis and characterisation of LCs. Currently, she does her PhD with us on "Physics meet Biology" scheme, specifically on research in liquid crystal elastomers for artificial vasculature for sustaining organoid growth.
LC elastomers.

Nikolay Popov

PhD Candidate
Nikolay earned his Masters in chemistry at Ivanovo State University, Russia. During his Masters he worked at the Nanomaterials Research Institute on the development of liquid crystal (LC) thin films bio-sensing technics. At ESMP Nikolay studied the bottom-up LC elastomer synthesis of shells and tubes using microfluidics. LC elastomer actuators tubes might be potentially useful in future as an artificial vasculature which improves vitality of organoids in-vitro. He also contributed to the MiShell Zero Gravity experiments project. Starting from July 2021 Nikolay will continue his research at ESMP as a doctoral candidate with a new research project which is mainly devoted to improving LC shells stability and their use in bio-sensing applications.
Liquid crystal shells as reporters of biomolecular adsorption events

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

Axel Lorant

Bachelor Student
Axel will be investigating the isotropic-nematic phase transition of liquid crystal oligomers dissolved in a solvent as it evaporates. Furthermore, the impact of the concentration of chiral dopant on the ground-state color of cholesteric liquid crystal elastomers (CLCEs) will be studied.
Phase transition of liquid crystal oligomers

Yosuke Pestana Nakamura

Bachelor Student
Yosuke will be studying the small-scale limit of cholesteric spherical reflectors (CSRs). In particular, he will be preparing liquid crystal droplets by different methods, turning them into solids by polymerization and then characterizing them locally, using a polarizing microscope, as well as macroscopically, using cameras and external illuminators.
Small-scale limit of cholesteric spherical reflectors (CSRs)

Katrin schelski

PhD Candidate
Katrin earned her MSc in Analytical Chemistry and Quality Assurance from the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg (HBRS), Germany. Before joining ESMP she worked on liquid crystal-based gas sensing and furthermore visited the group as an intern. Currently, she continues her research on the potential of electrospun, liquid crystal-filled polymer fibers for the quantitative detection of volatile organic compounds.
The potential of electrospun, liquid crystal-filled polymer fibers for the quantitative detection of volatile organic compounds.

Deniz Avsar

PhD Candidate
Deniz earned her master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey. During her master’s study, she worked on the synthesis and characterization of sensor microparticles templated from cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) to develop artificial photonic materials for the detection of volatile organic compounds. She joined the ESMP in September 2021 as a PhD candidate to work on TRANSCEND project.

TRANSCEND Project: Transforming autonomous navigation, swarm robotics and construction by encoding data into surfaces.

Yansong ZHANG

Postdoctoral Researcher
With a broad background in various disciplines (polymer chemistry, chemical engineering and photonics), Yansong is a materials researcher specialised in light-responded elastomers and self-organizing polymer networks. He received his Master and PhD degree in chemical engineering from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. After that he did three-years post-doc in Prof. Chia-Rong Lee’s group in the department of photonics at same university to develop smart actuators, liquid crystal laser and planar optics. He attempts to synthesis anisotropic polymers with new functionalities and integrate them into optical devices to meet industrial and societal challenges. In January 2022 he became a member of ESMP and is working on to electrospinning fibers and Cholesteric Spherical Reflectors to make innovative pathogen sampling filters and reporters of biomolecular binding events.
Bio-sensing the frugal way with liquid crystal spheres

Adamantia Galani

Administrative staff
Adamantia help our group in many ways: Administration, balance our budgets and purchase all of our equipment.