Carl Brown

Carl Brown


School of Science & Technology

Staff Group(s)
Physics and Mathematics


Carl Brown is a Professor of Physics in the School of Science of Technology. He leads research in liquid interactions and complex fluids, has published 65 peer-reviewed papers, and has attracted grant funding as PI or Co-I of £2.7M, including from industry, and from the EU, UK MoD, and the UK EPSRC. He has been the Director of Studies for 10 PhD researchers whilst at Nottingham Trent and Oxford Universities.

His teaching contributions are made to Bachelors and Masters projects in Physics, and on the M-level PHYS42534 Imaging Matter module.

Research areas

Professor Brown is a member of the Soft Matter Physics Research Group,

Current research is being carried out in the following areas:

  • Nematic Liquid Crystal Flow - During Poiseuille flow of a layer of nematic liquid crystal, a number of factors determine the spatially dependent orientation of the nematic director and the velocity profile. These include the relative strength and direction of surface anchoring, the flow rate, the relative magnitude of the anisotropic viscous and elastic forces, and the strength of an externally applied electric field orthogonal to the flow direction. The study of such electro-rheological effects in nematics has previously been limited to thick layers, for which elastic forces can be neglected, and to specific geometries and flow switching phenomena in thinner layers. We are performing experiments, alongside theoretical analysis and simulations by our collaborators at Strathclyde University, to explore the complex nature of surface-flow-field-director coupling for a thin homogenous nematic layer.
  • Dynamic Dewetting - When a small droplet is deposited on a smooth surface it spreads across the surface until it reaches an equilibrium droplet shape or until it becomes a film. However, often a process starts with a liquid film, rather than a droplet, and a change of the environment or some other parameter, can initiate a process of de-wetting, i.e. the recoil or break up of a film on a surface into one or more droplets. The initial film state and its de-wetting from a surface are important for industrial processes, such as spin coated films used in lithography, painting/coatings, printing, heat exchangers, etc. In this project, we are using electric-field induced film formation to study non-naturally occurring film morphologies and their de-wetting dynamics into single droplets in a manner which has never previously been possible. We are investigating liquid-in-liquid systems with order of magnitude contrasts in viscosity ratios, thereby elucidating the fundamentals of the fluid mechanics of contact line motion. We are also investigating the combination of individually programmable film morphologies into fully programmable arrays of wetting patterns. The work is funded by the EPSRC and is a collaboration between Nottingham Trent University and Northumbria University (grants EP/R042276/1 and EP/R036837/1).
  • Responsible Research and Innovation - Professor Brown is a co-Investigator on the exciting NUCLEUS Horizon 2020 project – New Understanding of Communication, Learning and Engagement in Universities and Scientific Institutions ( NUCLEUS is bringing Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) to life in universities and research institutions across Europe, and far beyond through our partners in China and South Africa. RRI seeks to develop a shared interest and mutual responsibility between stakeholders and researchers, driving inclusive and influential dialogue about how research is conducted, applied, and creates impact for society.

Opportunities arise to carry out postgraduate research towards an MPhil / PhD in the areas identified above. Further information may be obtained on the NTU Research Degrees website

External activity

Professor Carl Brown is a previous Treasurer of the British Liquid Crystal Society. He currently serves on the Committee of the UK and Ireland Chapter of the Society for Information Display.

Sponsors and collaborators

Current and recent research is being carried out in collaboration with, or funded by:

  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • European Commission Horizon 2020
  • Merck Chemicals Ltd (Southampton and Darmstadt)
  • Scottish Enterprise
  • Kodak European Research Ltd
  • QinetiQ (Malvern)

Research funding has included:

  • Dynamic Dewetting: Designing and Breaking Novel Morphologies of Liquid Films, EPSRC EP/R042276/1 (2018 to 2021)
  • CDE39296, MoD/DSTL CDE scheme (2015 to 2016)
  • NUCLEUS Responsible Research & Innovation, European Commission (2015 to 2019)
  • Dielectrowetting: oleo- & hydrophilicity control, EPSRC Grant EP/K015192/1 (2013 to 2016)
  • Anisotropic Liquid Dielectrophoresis, EPSRC Grant EP/J009865/1 (2012 to 2015)
  • Exploiting the solid-liquid interface, EPSRC EP/E063489/1 (2007 to 2012)
  • Sidewall control of multistate switchable photonic devices, EPSRC EP/F014988/1 (2007 to 2010)
  • Spatial light modulator based on electrowetting technology, Kodak (2005 to 2009)
  • A novel bistable liquid crystal device for portable display device applications, Scottish Enterprise (2005 to 2007)
  • Flexoelectricity and ordering in nematic liquid crystals, EPSRC GR/S90621/01 (2004 to 2007)
  • Bistable nematic liquid crystal displays, EPSRC GR/R17423/01 (2001 to 2005)
  • Development and numerical modelling of optically addressed spatial light modulator technology, QinetiQ


Selected publications

  • “Dielectrowetting: The past, present and future”, A.M.J. Edwards, C.V. Brown, M.I. Newton and G. McHale, Current Opinion in Colloid and Interface Science 36, pp 28–36 (2018)
  • “Electric field induced reversible spreading of droplets into films on lubricant impregnated surfaces”, Z. Brabcova, G. McHale, G.G.Wells, C.V. Brown, M.I. Newton, Appl. Phys. Lett. 110, 121603 (2017)
  • “Near Axisymmetric Partial Wetting Using Liquid Dielectrophoresis”, Z. Brabcova, G. McHale,  G.G. Wells, C.V. Brown, M.I. Newton, A.M.J. Edwards, Langmuir 32(42), pp 10844–10850 (2016)
  • “Not spreading in reverse: the dewetting of a liquid film into a single drop”, A.M.J. Edwards, R. Ledesma-Aguilar, M.I. Newton, C.V. Brown, G. McHale, Science Advances 2(9), e1600183 (2016)
  • “Dielectrophoresis-Driven Spreading of Immersed Liquid Droplets”, C.V. Brown, G. McHale, and C.L. Trabi, Langmuir Vol. 31(3), pp 1011–1016 (2015)
  • “Voltage-induced spreading and superspreading of liquids”, G. McHale, C.V. Brown, and N. Sampara, Nature Communications 4, article 1605 (2013)
  • “Diffraction grating with suppressed zero order fabricated using dielectric forces”, G.G. Wells, N. Sampara, E.E. Kriezis, J. Fyson, and C.V. Brown, Optics Letters, Vol. 36(22), pp 4404-4407 Nov (2011)
  • “Dielectrowetting Driven Spreading of Droplets”, G. McHale, C.V. Brown, M. I. Newton, G. G. Wells, and N. Sampara, Physical Review Letters, Vol. 107, pp 186101-186104 Oct (2011)
  • “Voltage-programmable liquid optical interface”, C.V. Brown, G.G. Wells, M.I. Newton and G. McHale, Nature Photonics, Vol 3(7), pp 403-405 July (2009)

See all of Carl Brown's publications...

Press expertise

3D TV technology

Ebook reader displays technology

Electronic paper technology

LCD TV technology





Lab on a chip