Wojciech Tomczyk, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, January 2015

I am a PhD student under the supervision of Professor Lech Longa in the Department of Statistical Physics in the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science, Jagiellonian University, Kraków (Poland). Currently I am engaged in studies devoted to spontaneous chiral symmetry breaking in liquid crystalline systems of achiral bent-core, especially in investigation of the nature of the heliconical (twist-bend) nematic phase (Ntb) of nanoscale pitch. My research focuses on chiral, biaxial and polar order in microscopic and phenomenological models of bent-core liquid crystals in the mean field approximation. Both my B.Sc. (Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, 2012) and M.Sc. (Experimental Physics, 2014) degrees I have acquired in the field of liquid crystals science under the supervision of Doctor Monika Marzec in the liquid crystal group in the Department of Advanced Materials Engineering in the Faculty of Physics, Astronomy and Applied Computer Science, Jagiellonian University, Kraków (Poland). As part of my theses and scientific projects I was studying the physicochemical properties and molecular dynamics of newly synthesized pure and as well as mixtures of thermotropic liquid crystalline compounds exhibiting ferro- and antiferroelectric smectic C* phases. I have conducted experiments by means of methods like: Differential Scanning Calorimetry (DSC), Polarizing Optical Microscopy (POM) with electro-optic measurements, X-ray Powder Diffraction (XRPD), Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR), Frequency Domain Dielectric Spectroscopy (FDDS) and by theoretical approach involving construction and analysis of quantum-chemical models based on Density Functional Theory. I am an active member of Polish Liquid Crystal Society.
This picture presents a texture of thermotropic, liquid crystal compound - a fluorosubstituted ester with three phenyl rings. Texture observation was done using NIKON Eclipse polarizing microscope with LINKAM hot stage. Picture was taken during the cooling process of liquid crystalline sample in the ITO electrooptic cell with polymer (SE610) homogenous layer (strong rubbing applied) under constant influence of external electric field (sinusoidal wave, 100 Hz, 32 V per micrometer) in the vicinity of phase transition from antiferroelectric Smectic C* phase to crystal. As one can see there is a visible boundary between conducting and non-conducting part of the electrooptic cell and little ovules of crystals which start to sprout in form of colorful ribbon-like paths.

Jury comment: A picture taken just at the right moment with the crystal phase advancing from the non- field addressed area of the cell. Beautiful mix of color and textures.