Ingo Dierking, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, March 2011

IngoDierkingPortraitIngo Dierking is a Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. His research currently focuses on chirality in liquid crystals, polymer stabilised LCs, and nano-particle dispersions in liquid crystals. He is the author of the book “Textures of Liquid Crystals”, and regularly shows scientific images in exhibitions relating to liquid crystals, fractals, and microscopy, also as part of national and international public outreach programs.
Phase transitions are a central aspect of liquid crystal research. The image shows the transition from the cholesteric phase with its typical oily-streaks texture on the left, to the ferroelectric SmC* phase on the right. The latter is clearly distinguished by its characteristic equidistant line pattern due to the helical superstructure. The image also shows that the helices of the N* and SmC* phases are mutually perpendicular, out of the plane for the cholesteric phase, and in the plane of the image for the smectic C* phase.

Jury comment: A wonderful example of the manifoldness of patterns within a single sample. In addition, the image is instructive because it allows straightforward conclusions on structure relations (see description).