Ingo Dierking, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, June 2009

Ingo Dierking is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. His research is mainly focused around topics concerning chirality in liquid crystals, polymer modified liquid crystals, liquid crystal – micro- and nanoparticle dispersions, and growth and coarsening phenomena. He received his PhD from the University of Clausthal in Germany, held postdoc positions at IBM in the USA and Chalmers University in Sweden, and was a lecturer at Darmstadt University, Germany, prior to joining the University of Manchester in 2002. He is a former Humboldt fellow, and author of the book “Textures of Liquid Crystals”.
The texture photograph shows a cholesteric phase in the Grandjean orientation (helix axis parallel to the direction of light propagation) with “hot spots” leading to temperature gradients throughout the cell. These are illustrated by discontinuous pitch changes represented by the different colours and
Jury comment: a nice example of the beautiful textures that chiral liquid crystals develop, at the same time demonstrating the strong sensitivity to external influences (here temperature) that is characteristic of many liquid crystal phases.
grey tones. The pitch changes stepwise, because of the finite sample thickness in combination with the planar unidirectional boundary conditions. Each discontinuous pitch jump represents a π-twist change, because only integer multiples of 180 degree twists are allowed in the sample gap.

The image was taken with a JVC KY-F1030 digital camera mounted on a Nikon Optiphot-Pol microscope with a 10x objective. The image size is approximately 500x350μm