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The research in the group deals with the self-assembly processes occurring in soft matter, our main fundamental science foci being on liquid crystals, colloids and polymers. We are particularly interested in spontaneous long-range ordered structure formation on the nano- and microscales, driven by the unique ordering processes of liquid crystals. We work with the thermotropic as well as the lyotropic class of liquid crystal, often with nematics (chiral or non-chiral) and sometimes with smectics, and when appropriate, we polymerize the phases using reactive mesogens. Our specialty is to study liquid crystalline self-assembly in unconventional contexts, using e.g. electrospinning and microfluidics to produce new composite structures. Apart from investigating their properties and behavior from a fundamental scientific point of view, we also explore their application possibilities, in particular in wearable technology, soft robotics, advanced composite materials, and in secure authentication.

The map below gives a pictorial overview of our main current activities, interests, and some brief info on previous work.
Currently, the group’s research is organized around the following five projects (reverse chronological order with respect to starting date):

  • LIMEFLOW. Mr. Larry Honaker obtained an AFR grant from the Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR). He is exploring the behavior of liquid metal alloys as they are co-flowing in microfluidic set-ups together with various other fluids.

  • INTERACT. An ERC Consolidator Grant-funded project dealing with wearable technology, soft robotics, and dynamic pattern generation, based on liquid crystal-functionalized electrospun fibers, liquid crystal elastomer actuators, and cholesteric liquid crystal shells, respectively.

  • MISONANCE. A joint project between Jan and Prof. Tanja Schilling, also at the PhyMS of UL, funded by the CORE scheme of the Fonds National de la Recherche Luxembourg (FNR), focusing on the balance between liquid crystal formation and jamming into glassy states of suspensions of cellulose nanocrystals, and the potential to dry such suspensions into solid films with photonic crystal properties.

Three most recent publications

Isotropic-isotropic phase separation and spinodal decomposition in liquid crystal-solvent mixtures, Catherine G. Reyes, Jörg Baller, Takeaki Araki and Jan P. F. Lagerwall , soft matter, 2019,15, 6044-6054

Liquid crystal elastomer shell actuators with negative order parameter, V. S. R. Jampani, R. H. Volpe, K. Reguengo de Sousa, J. Ferreira Machado, C. M. Yakacki and J. P. F. Lagerwall, Sci.adv.,DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aaw2476

Influence of head group and chain length of surfactants using for stabilising liquid crystal shells,
Anjali Sharma and J.P.F. Lagerwall,
Liquid crystals, DOI 10.1080/02678292.2018.1509391

More publications can be found here.