John Sandford O'Neill featured ILCS liquid crystal artist, June 2020

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John Sandford O’Neill is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford working on direct laser writing techniques in liquid crystal materials. He works with a team of researchers in the Soft Matter Photonics and Dynamic Optics and Photonics Groups in the Department of Engineering Science under the supervision of Dr. Patrick Salter, Prof. Martin Booth, Prof. Steve Elston and Prof. Stephen Morris. His research interests include new applications for liquid crystals in AR/VR technology and elastomeric mechanical systems. Beyond liquid crystal research, John is interested in photography, DJing, electronic music production and art as science.

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A polymer channel laser-written in a pi-cell liquid crystal device, inspired by developments in microfluidics technology. The device is relaxing to a topologically discontinuous director state and the transition is confined and unable to penetrate through the topologically discontinuous polymer walls. Scale for image: the central channel is 45 µm in width.
Jury comment: I find it visually very attractive with the distribution of different spreading lines and the positioning of shapes of different colours. The connection to the microfluidics technology is of course technologically and scientifically very interesting a new to the field.