Smart Materials & Soft Matter

Smart materials are ones which are designed with particular properties and whose properties can be changed by applying an external force.

Soft matter describes materials which are easily deformable by applied stresses. Our interests are mainly around how liquids interact with surfaces and how that interaction can be controlled. We study how micro- and nano-structured surfaces shape liquids and create super-liquid repellent or super-slurp surfaces, how surfaces can reduce drag on boats or for flow through tubes and pipes, how electric fields can change the shape of a droplet or a film of oil and how particle encapsulated droplets (“Liquid Marbles”) can be created as soft solids. Much of our work relates to the wetting or spreading of liquids under surface tension dominated effects at solid-liquid interfaces.

We also mathematically model liquid crystals. These are anisotropic fluids made up of elongated molecules. Liquid crystals are fascinating materials to study and have applications in display technology, bi-layer lipid membranes and ultra-strong materials. Current research is in phase transitions and ordering of uniaxial and biaxial nematic liquid crystals; acoustic propagation in nematic liquid crystals and Q-tensor modelling of nematic liquid crystals.

Recent research has been conducted in collaboration and with the support of Kodak European Research, the European Union, the UK Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), The Royal Society, The Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and a range of UK and international universities.   

Academic Staff: Dr Rodrigo Ledesma Aguilar; Dr  Zuzana Brabcova; Dr. Richard FuDr Nic GeraldiDr. Yifan LiDr Giovanni De Matteis; Professor Glen McHale; Dr. Ciro SemprebonDr Gary Wells; Dr Ben Xu;   

Further Information: Nature's Raincoats