Opportunity for Early Career Researchers: UK-Korea Workshop on Soft Matter

Call for Participants to UK-Korea Workshop on Soft Matter
Date: 18-21 March 2014
Venue: National Institute for Mathematical Sciences, South Korea

The British Council Researcher Links scheme is inviting Early Career Researchers (within 10 years of their doctoral degree) from the UK and South Korea to apply to attend a workshop entitled ‘Soft Matter: Analysis, Applications and Challenges’. Deadline for applications: 1 February 2014. See here for further details.

Conference Report: BLCS Annual Meeting 2013

25-27 March 2013, Selwyn College, University of Cambridge

article by Kirsty Holdsworth (University of York, email: klh509…at…york.ac.uk)

Selwyn CollegeThe annual meeting of the BLCS this year took place on 25-27 March 2013 in the picturesque Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge – a place with perfectly manicured lawns and catering staff we’re not like to forget for quite some time. This year the BLCS conference was to lead directly onto an afternoon mathematics session held by the Isaac Newton Institute, which proved popular. As usual the whole event was alive with exciting and enthusiastic talks, followed by equally lively discussions in the bar afterwards!

DSC02609DSC02607The first ever BLCS Distinguished Lecturer title was given to Professor Peter Collings, who did not disappoint with his talk ‘The Assembly/Disassembly Kinetics and Elasticity of Chromonic Liquid Crystals,’ overviewing some of the work he and his group have completed on chromonic liquid crystals. This talk was swiftly followed by Professor Gordon Tiddy who gave a memorable talk full of dry wit and good humour about his own experiences with chromonic liquid crystals and the dye sunset yellow. Professor Peter Palffy-Muhoray kept the audience enthralled with this year’s Sturgeon Memorial Lecture, for which he gave a talk entitled ‘Solid Liquid Crystals’ (the term ‘liquid crystal’ clearly wasn’t oxymoronic enough) which included quite amazing videos of liquid crystal elastomer films with the ability to swim and fly.


The George W Gray medal was awarded to a deserving Professor Helen Gleeson, whose fascinating talk gave us a flavour of her research over the years, including biaxial nematic systems and optical tweezing of particles in liquid crystals. Dr Isabel Saez kept her speech short and sweet as she collected the Cyril Hilsum Medal at the conference dinner for her contributions to the field of liquid crystals throughout her career so far, in particular her work with clusters, dendrimers and nanoparticles. The Young Scientist award was awarded to Dr Sarabjot Kaur, who gave a presentation detailing her work with bent core systems entitled ‘Going round the bend! How bent molecules affect the properties of nematic liquid crystals.

The standard of talks this year was very high, showcasing innovative results and spanning broad subject areas including supermolecular liquid crystals from inorganic clusters, T-shaped benzothizole compounds and simulations of blue phases in external fields. Kirsty Holdsworth took home the prize for best talk with an interesting presentation (if I do say so myself) entitled ‘controlling the director configuration in nematic polymer particles’.

The poster session included 26 posters spanning all possible disciplines surrounding liquid crystals and some provoked lively discussion (granted the wine may have helped). The best poster prize was awarded to Harry Milton from Manchester University for his poster titled ‘Assessment of liquid crystal lenses for contact lens use’.

As is tradition, the BLCS AGM would have been quite amiss without the closing presentation by Dr John Lydon, complete with poem. This year he took us through history, from nature and into future possibilities with his talk entitled ‘Crane flies, opals, inverse opals and tomorrow’s photonics.’

DSC02604So with another BLCS AGM over and done with, what will Durham 2014 have in store for us?


Conference report: The Molecular Modelling and Theory of Liquid Crystals

 22 March 2013, Newton Institute, University of Cambridge

article by Andrew Masters


This one day workshop was jointly organized between the Statistical Mechanics and Thermodynamics Group (SMTG) of the Royal Society of Chemistry, the British Liquid Crystal Society (BLCS), and the Isaac Newton Institute (INI), Cambridge. It formed part of the INI’s workshop on Analytical  and Computational Paths from Molecular Foundations to Continuum Descriptions workshop. The SMTG and BLCS organizers were David Cheung and Andrew Masters, while the INI organizers were Mike Allen, Mikhail Osipov,Valeriy Slastikov, and Claudio Zannoni.

Approximately 20 people, containing a good number of PhD students and Research Associates, registered for this event, joining the people already participating in the INI workshop. The session kicked off by presentations from Claudio Zannoni (Bologna) and Mark Wilson (Durham), giving an up-to-date account of molecular simulation in the field of liquid crystals. Claudio Zannoni focused in the main on thermotropic systems while Mark Wilson instead presented recent results for self-aggregating, chromonic systems. After this came a wide variety of presentations, a nice mix of simulation, theory and experiment.

Seminar videos and presentation slides from this one day event are available at http://www.newton.ac.uk/programmes/MLC/mlcw22p, while those for the whole INI workshop can be found at http://www.newton.ac.uk/programmes/MLC/mlcw02p.html.


George Gray

George_GrayWith great regret the BLCS wish to announce the very sad news that Professor George Gray FRS has died. George will be greatly missed as a friend and colleague to so many within the liquid crystal community. We are forever grateful to George for his seminal contributions to the field of liquid crystals and will greatly miss his knowledge, his enthusiasm for science and his love of life.