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Design, synthesis and characterisation of novel liquid crystals for electro-optic applications

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  • Full or part time
    Prof C T Imrie
    Prof J M D Storey
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Liquid crystals are often referred to as the fourth state of matter and combine the characteristics of liquids and crystals. They are perhaps most familiar to us through liquid crystal displays but are far more common than that. Every time you use soap, you are using a liquid crystal, and cell membranes are also liquid crystalline. In this project we are seeking to design new liquid crystals with enhanced properties for electro-optic applications. It has been shown very recently that the elastic constants of a liquid crystal can be related to molecular shape and this can lead to new types of applications in electro-optic devices [1-3]. We have exploited this recently and designed materials having very low elastic constants.

The project will involve the synthesis of a range of molecules in which shape is changed in a systematic manner. Of particular interest are molecules having a bent molecular shape. The properties of these new materials will be evaluated and related to their structure. This will allow us to develop structure-property relationships for these types of molecules and using this knowledge we will develop materials having targeted properties. The characterisation of the new materials will involve thermal methods including polarised light microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, and X-ray diffraction. Working with collaborators we will also measure their electro-optic properties in device configurations.

This project will involve the synthesis of new materials, their physical characterisation and molecular modelling. The balance between organic synthesis and physical characterisation can to some extent be tailored to meet an individual’s interests.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to have) a UK Honours Degree (or equivalent) at 2.1 or above in Chemistry

Knowledge: Organic and physical chemistry

This project is advertised in relation to the research areas Chemical Sciences in the discipline of Chemistry. Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for PhD in Chemistry, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct College for processing. NOTE CLEARLY THE NAME OF THE SUPERVISOR and EXACT PROJECT TITLE ON THE APPLICATION FORM.

Informal inquiries can be made to Professor C T Imrie ([Email Address Removed]) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Graduate School Admissions Unit ([Email Address Removed]).

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only


[1] Xiang J, Li YN, Li Q, Paterson DA, Storey JMD, Imrie CT, Lavrentovich OD. Electrically Tunable Selective Reflection of Light from Ultraviolet to Visible and Infrared by Heliconical Cholesterics. Adv Mater. 2015;27(19):3014-3018.
[2] Xiang J, Varanytsia A, Minkowski F, Paterson DA, Storey JMD, Imrie CT, Lavrentovich OD, Palffy-Muhoray P. Electrically tunable laser based on oblique heliconical cholesteric liquid crystal. Proc Nat Acad Sci USA. 2016;113(46):12925-12928.
[3] Salili SM, Xiang J, Wang H, Li Q, Paterson DA, Storey JMD, Imrie CT, Lavrentovich OD, Sprunt SN, Gleeson JT, Jakli A. Magnetically tunable selective reflection of light by heliconical cholesterics. Physical Review E. 2016;94(4).

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