Experimental Soft Matter Physics


Very large molecules, or macromolecules, or polymers, are of incredible importance in nature as well as in technology and society. To most people they are probably connected primarily to plastics, but in fact the cellulose of plants, the proteins carrying out so many vital functions in our bodies as well as the DNA carrying our hereditary information are polymers as well. In our research we work with synthetic polymers in the theme dealing with electrospinning, and we explore the biopolymer cellulose in the shape of crystalline nanorods.

Moreover, we even make polymers in some of our research, using reactive small molecules, most often forming liquid crystals. This way we can for instance make liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) actuators, a field we are exploring together with the macromolecular chemistry group of Prof. Rudolf Zentel, Johannes-Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany. Our main focus here is to make LCEs with unconventional shapes, e.g. in shells or tubes produced by microfluidic techniques. We also polymerize liquid crystals to render structures produced by liquid crystalline self-assembly permanent, i.e. the liquid crystal precursor templates a final solid material, such that we can use them in contexts where a liquid state sample is not acceptable.

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Three most recent publications

Elucidating the fine details of cholesteric liquid crystal shell reflection patterns
Yong Geng, JungHyun Noh, Irena Drevensek-Olenik, Romano Rupp, and Jan P. F. Lagerwall
Liquid Crystals, DOI: 10.1080/02678292.2017.1363916 (2017)

Why organically functionalized nanoparticles increase the electrical conductivity of nematic liquid crystal dispersions
Martin Urbanski, and Jan P. F. Lagerwall Journal of Materials Chemistry C, DOI: 10.1039/C7TC02856C (2017)

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Liquid crystals in micron-scale droplets, shells, and fibers
Martin Urbanski, Catherine G. Reyes, JungHyun Noh, Anshul Sharma, Yong Gang, Venkata Subba Rao Jampani, Jan P.F. Lagerwall
J. Phys,: Condens. Matter, DOI: 10.1088/1361-648X/aa5706 (2017)

More publications can be found here.