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If surfactants are present at sufficient concentration in water the hydrophobic effect (the disliking of water of the hydrogen bond-incapable, thus hydrophobic, alkyl chain of the surfactant) will lead to self-organization of the surfactants into closed aggregates, in which the polar head groups arrange outwards towards the water, protecting the hydrophobic alkyl chains from water contact inside the aggregate. These aggregates are the micelles. At small concentration they are often spherical but at higher concentration, or in combination with co-surfactants, they can be disc- or rod-like. If such ansiometric micelles are present at high enough number, they can organize into an orientationally ordered lyotropic liquid crystal phase, a phenomenon that we frequently take advantage of in the ESMP group research.

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Three most recent publications

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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)

Taming Liquid Crystal Self-Assembly: The Multifaceted Response of Nematic and Smectic Shells to Polymerization
JungHyun Noh, Benjamin Henx, and Jan P. F. Lagerwall Adv., Mater, DOI 10.1002/adma.201603158 (2016)
Correlation between structural properties and iridescent colors of cellulose nanocrystalline films, M. Ličen, B. Majaron, J. Noh, C. Schütz, L. Bergström, J. Lagerwall, I. Drevenšek-Olenik, Cellulose, DOI 10.1007/s10570-016-1066-z (2016)

More publications can be found here.