Computational Modelling Group

Liquid crystals

Physics textbooks normally identify as the three phases of matter, the solid, liquid and vapour phases. Liquid Crystals are a different state of matter which exhibit a degree of order between that of a fluid and a solid: its molecules are not in a fixed position, as is the case of liquids, but may have very similar orientations, as is the case of crystals.

The ordered orientation makes these material birefringent, the change the polarisation of the light travelling through them. This property gives rise to beautiful patterns of light when thin liquid crystal layers are seen through cross-polarisers, as in the photo on the right. The different colours are caused by the fact that the liquid crystal is a liquid and so, the average orientation of its molecules, changes across the sample. The change of orientation can be controlled by applying an electric field: at the flick of a switch the alignment can change drastically and, for example, change the thin layer from transparent to opaque. This is the principle at the heart of liquid crystal displays.

For more information on liquid crystals see

For queries about this topic, contact Giampaolo D'Alessandro.

View the calendar of events relating to this topic.


Efficient algorithms for liquid crystal alignment

Giampaolo D'Alessandro, Timothy Sluckin (Investigators)

We have developed an efficient algorithm to determine the liquid crystal alignment in the absence of defects. The aim of this project is to extend this algorithm to include defects.

Homogenisation of liquid crystal colloids

Giampaolo D'Alessandro, Keith Daly (Investigators), Thomas Bennett

We use homogenization thoery to obtain macroscopic governing equations for nematic liquid crystals that host arbitrarily shaped nano particles.


Timothy Sluckin
Professor, Mathematics (FSHS)
Giampaolo D'Alessandro
Reader, Mathematics (FSHS)
Keith Daly
Research Fellow, Civil Engineering & the Environment (FEE)
Nina Podoliak
Research Fellow, Physics & Astronomy (FPAS)
Thomas Bennett
Postgraduate Research Student, Mathematics (FSHS)
Justin Lovegrove
Postgraduate Research Student, Mathematics (FSHS)