Nirmalangshu Chakraborty, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, February 2013

Nirmalangshu Chakraborty was UGC research fellow at Assam University, Silchar, India. He completed his Ph D programme with Prof Nandiraju V S Rao, Department of Chemistry, Assam University, Silchar, India related to the design, synthesis and characterization of achiral four-ring bent-core compounds and influence of substituents on the mesomorphism of these four ring compounds and to study their optical properties.

Dr Chakraborty visited Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan as Research Fellow under Global COE programme of Education and Research Centre for Material Innovation and advanced studies related to chirality in achiral liquid crystals and optical characteristics in novel nematic phases under the guidance of Prof. Ken Ishikawa and Prof. Hideo Takezoe in the Department of Organic and Polymeric Materials, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. Presently, he is working as post doctoral fellow with Prof. N Jayaraman in the Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India in the field of dendrimer liquid crystals and nano objects coming from dendromesogens.
The image is of a Smectic A phase of a four ring achiral unsymmetrical bent core material between crossed polarizers, which was taken in a commercial polyimide coated parallel rubbed sandwich cell of approximately 5.0 μm thickness. At the transition to the Smectic A phase, thin needle-like domains emerged. During the growth, they exhibited a helical appearance. But, upon coalescing with neighbouring domains or attaching to substrates, the texture changed to a focal conic texture in the Sm phase, which is apparently different from that obtained from conventional calamitic smectic phase. The picture was taken at 118°C on Nikon Polarizing microscope attached with Instec STC 200 hot stage and Nikon Digital sight DS-Fi1 digital camera. The image dimension is 1280 X 960 (Width 1280 pixels and Height 960 pixels).

Jury comment: This hauntingly beautiful image of a SmA texture was chosen for its clarity, subtle color variations, and strong impression of 3-dimensionality.