Postgraduate research opportunities

Theory of elasticity of unconventional nematic liquid crystals

The aim of this project is the generalise the existing molecular-statistical theory of elasticity of nematic liquid crystals to the case of bent-core nematics, composed of biaxial and polar molecules, using the preliminary results obtained in recent years.

Number of places

One

Opens

1 October 2020

Eligibility

Qualifications: BSc (Hons) 2:1 in Mathematics or in a related discipline.

Project Details

Elastic constants of nematic liquid crystals, which describe the energy associated with orientational deformation of such anisotropic fluids, are among the most important parameters for various applications of liquid crystal materials. The elastic constants of nematic liquid crystals have been well investigated both experimentally and theoretically in the past. During the past decade a number of novel liquid crystals materials with unconventional molecular structure have been investigated and it has been found that these systems are characterised by the anomalous values and behaviour of the elastic constants. In particular, it has been shown that in the nematic phase exhibited by the so-called V-shaped bent-core liquid crystals two of the three elastic constants decrease nearly to zero with the decreasing temperature. This behaviour is still very poorly understood.

It should be noted that bent-core liquid crystals attract a very significant attention at present because they also exhibit a number of unusual novel phases with a nanoscale helical structure. It is now generally accepted that a transition into these unusual phases may be driven by the dramatic reduction of the elastic constants.

The aim of this project is the generalise the existing molecular-statistical theory of elasticity of nematic liquid crystals to the case of bent-core nematics, composed of biaxial and polar molecules, using the preliminary results obtained in recent years (see, for example, the references to some of our recent papers given below). Another aim is to explain the existing experimental data on the temperature variation of the elastic constants of bent-core nematic liquid crystals.

The project will include a collaboration with the experimental group at the University of Leeds and the theoretical group from Russian Academy of Sciences.  These collaborations are very important for  the success of the project.

[1] M. A. Osipov and G. Pajak, Effect of polar intermolecular interactions on the elastic constants of bent-core nematics and the origin of the twist-bend phase, The European Physical Journal E 39, 45 (2016).

[2] M. A. Osipov and G. Pajak, Polar interactions between bent-core molecules as a stabilising factor for inhomogeneous nematic phases with spontaneous bend deformations, Liquid Crystals 44, 58 (2016).

[3] S. Srigengan, M. Nagaraj, A. Ferrarini, R. Mandle, S.J. Cowling, M.A. Osipov, G. PajÄ…k, J.W. Goodby and H.F. Gleeson, J. Mater. Chem. C, 2013, 6, 980

 

Supervisor

Professor Mikhail A Osipov

Further information

Please email Prof Osipov if you would like more information regarding this opportunity (m.osipov@strath.ac.uk)