· Liquid crystal - nanotube dispersions
The self-organising properties of liquid crystals can be used to transfer orientational order onto dispersed nanotubes. These can then be reoriented by application of electric, magnetic or optical fields, leading to externally steered nanotube switches.
· Dispersions of colloidal particles in liquid crystals
The dispersion of colloidal particles in anisotropic fluids leads to a variety of specific defects and pattern formation behaviour. These phenomena are only marginally understood at the present time and the diversity of additional effects by application of external fields is open to be discovered.
· (Lyotropic) graphene oxide liquid crystals
Graphene oxide in water or other isotropic solvents forms a lyotropic nematic phase with many interesting properties. We further investigate carbon based nanomaterials in thermotropic phases, which change their properties, and experience an ordering field through the liquid crystalline order.
· Chirality in anisotropic fluids
Introduction of chirality to anisotropic fluids leads to a variety of new phenomena, such as the formation of helical superstructures, the appearance of novel frustrated phases and polar effects.
· Polar effects in liquid crystals
Polar effects in liquid crystals are mostly (but not exclusively) related to chiral molecules constituent of a variety of different phases. These relate to flexoelectric, ferro-, ferri- and antiferroelectric properties of liquid crystals.
· Polymer modified liquid crystals
Polymer stabilised liquid crystals offer potential for applicational use in reflective displays. At the same time, the underlying fundamental physics of these systems, i.e. the relationship between polymerisation conditions, polymer network morphology, interactions between liquid crystal and polymer network and the resultant electro-optic properties are far from being understood on a quantitative basis.
· Nucleus growth and coarsening in liquid crystalline systems
The growth of nuclei of a thermodynamically favoured phase after a temperature quench across a phase transition can be described by simple universal scaling laws, just as well as the coarsening dynamics at later time scales (defect annihilation). Experimental investigations of both processes are relatively rare for liquid crystalline materials.
· Fractal structures in soft matter materials
The recent discovery of a variety of novel liquid crystalline phases, the so called banana phases, has attracted much experimental and theoretical interest. In contrast to ordinary liquid crystals, these phases exhibit fractal growth aggregates, a commonly observed behaviour in many other soft matter systems, like polymers or colloids.