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Liquid Crystal Nano-Colloids: Towards Composite Materials with Tuneable Properties S&T6

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2022
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2022

Project ID: S&T6

ntroduced by Einstein within his celebrated theory of Brownian motion, the “colloidal atom” paradigm has provided motivation and means for organising particles into crystals and other structures mimicking and even exceeding the structural diversity of molecular and atomic systems. Liquid crystal (LC) colloids have a series of advantages in addressing these grand scientific and engineering challenges, offering a means of controlling particle self-assembly via changing the particles’ surface boundary conditions, shape, topology and chirality. Some two- as well as three-dimensional colloidal crystallites have been previously reported relying however on laser tweezer-assisted assembly rather than on self-assembly alone.

The recent advent of charged nematic nano-colloids has set the self-assembling potential of these systems on a qualitatively new level, enabling spontaneous formation of low-symmetry nanoparticle crystals and mesophases, such that even triclinic crystals with ultra-low nanoparticle packing fractions were realised for the first time. Furthermore, the temperature- and electric field-dependence of the various nanoparticle interactions enables the realisation of dynamically reconfigurable crystals and mesophases with different symmetries.

Despite these exciting experimental breakthroughs, the mechanisms that control nanoparticles self-assembly are still illusive. Motivated by this knowledge gap, this project combines theoretical modelling and advanced numerical approaches to address basic and applied questions of self-assembly of nanoparticles in LCs.  The main objective is to reveal underpinning physical mechanisms that controls the phase behaviour of charged nanoparticles in LCs and ultimately determine the material properties of the self-assembled composite structures. Although the proposed research is mostly theoretical and computational, an intended collaboration with the experimental group led by Prof.  Smalyukh at the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA) will add additional guidance and impact to the project results. It is expected that outcomes of the project will significantly contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms of colloidal self-organisation of importance to achieving a number of scientific and technological goals in, e.g., novel stimuli-responsive materials research.

Supervisory Team:

Dr. Mykola Tasinkevych and Prof. Carl Brown

School strategic research priority

This project aligns with Imaging, Materials and Engineering Centre at the School of Science and Technology.

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

For guidance and to make an application, please visit our studentship application page. The application deadline is Friday 14 January 2022.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2022 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Download our full applicant guidance notes for more information.

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