Bandol Summer School on Liquid Crystals 2018
A unique feature of this summer school is the continuous interplay between classroom style teaching and laboratory experiments. In addition to lectures with incorporated exercises, the program contains a large component of practical lab work and discussions. As the number of teachers is half the number of students, the contact is close and there are lots of opportunities to ask questions. You will experience many demonstrations using didactic models that are particularly powerful to explain the complex optics of liquid crystals. The practical work includes basic polarizing microscopy, analysis of textures with demonstrations of the occurring defects (disclinations, Grandjean steps, focal conics etc.), electrooptic effects, PDLCs, cholesterics, preparation and analysis of lyotropic liquid crystals, and an exercise on computer-aided analysis of liquid crystal molecule shape and size.

Topics to be covered include (click on a heading to reveal more details; the final 2018 schedule is under preparation, but you can download the
detailed 2016 schedule here):

Liquid crystal phases and classes

Thermotropics vs. lyotropics, calamitics vs. discotics. Nematic, smectic, lamellar, columnar organization schemes.

Physical properties of liquid crystals

Optic, dielectric and elastic properties. Flexo-, ferro- and antiferroelectricity. The Kerr effect.

Liquid crystal chemistry

Basics of organic chemistry. Typical design schemes for mesogens, amphiphiles, chromonics and liquid crystalline polymers. Relation between molecule structure and physical properties.

Liquid crystal thermodynamics and statistical physics

Phase transitions and order parameters. Symmetry considerations. Orientational distribution functions. Percolation.

Chirality in liquid crystals

Optical activity, helical director modulation, spontaneous electric polarization. Cholesterics and blue phases.

Polarizing optical microscopy investigation of liquid crystals

Textures and their relation to liquid crystal phase and its alignment. Basic orthoscopic techniques. Phase plates compensators and conoscopy. The Poincaré sphere.

Other experimental characterization techniques

X-ray diffraction, electrooptic switching studies. Freestanding smectic films.

Lyotropic liquid crystals

Mixtures and phase diagrams. Preparation and characterization of surfactant-based lyotropic phases. Liquid crystallinity in colloidal suspensions of nanoparticles.

Topology applied to liquid crystals

Topological defects (disclinations) and their impact on liquid crystal textures. Interactions between defects and defect-seeding particles.

Computer simulations of liquid crystals

Basic concepts and terminology. Possibilities and practical limitations of computer simulation applied to liquid crystals. Interpretation of simulation data. Estimation of mesogen shape and size.

Applications of liquid crystals

Liquid crystal displays and the optic and electrooptic effects which they utilize. Liquid crystal elastomer actuators.
S. T. Lagerwall, F. Giesselmann, P. Rudquist, D. Kruerke, J. Lagerwall, G. Scalia, D. Blunk, S. Jagiella

Download the 2016 lecture schedule here. The 2018 schedule is not yet finalized. As soon as it is, it will be published here.