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  Abbott Research Group - UW Chemical and Biological Engineering

Laboratory for Molecular Engineering
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

Ordering of Liquid Crystals on Bio/Chemically Functionalized Interfaces

Although the ordering of liquid crystals at the surfaces of solids has received substantial attention in the context of electro-optical devices, these past studies of solid surfaces involved a limited diversity of surface chemical functionality (e.g., inorganic glasses and polymers such as polyimides). Enabled by recent advances in the synthesis of organic surfaces presenting a wide range of bio/chemical functional groups, our research has recently revealed principles that permit subtle transformations in surfacechemical functionality to be amplified into ordering transitions in liquid crystals that occur on the optical scale. These principles are broadly applicable to the design of responsive, soft material systems, and they have already provided the foundation of a new class of (passive) chemical and biological sensors. A summary of some highlights follows:

  • Identified a new molecular mechanism for surface-induced ordering of liquid crystals based on the presentation of transition metal ion complexes at surfaces, and the incorporation of ligands (e.g., nitrile groups) into liquid crystals. more
  • Established that electrochemical control of the oxidation state of surface-immobilized redox-active groups can trigger surface-induced ordering transitions in thermotropic (non-aqueous) liquid crystals. more
  • Revealed that the ordering of liquid crystals can be used to report the presence and state of biomolecules arrayed on the surfaces of solids. more