de Pablo Group: Liquid Crystals

Liquid crystals (LCs) are a phase of matter that flows like a liquid, but the orientations of the molecules are highly ordered over a very long range. This presence of long-range orientation results in interesting behavior of systems that employ LCs. In our group, we model LCs on multiple scales in an effort to engineer new applications for the laboratory and industry. At the atomistic level, we investigate the behavior of LCs near surfaces to determine the types and strength of anchoring present at different surfaces. At a mesoscale, we study systems mixtures and determine the accessibility different phases of LCs. On the largest scales, we investigate the behavior of particles, from the nanometer to micron scale, and observe their behavior in an LC solvent; the presence of defects in the LC has a marked effect on particle behavior, so by controlling the defect with fields (flow, electric, magnetic,etc.), we can dictate particle behavior in a well controlled manner.

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