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DiStruc Newsletter - Issue 4, 2017 

Welcome to the fourth issue of the DiStruc Newsletter!
The DiStruc fellows continue to make excellent progress. Scientific results keep coming in and more papers are being submitted and published. Moreover, the fellows find other ways to demonstrate their multiple talents and creativity. This summer we organised the first joint event between the DiStruc and Colldense Innovative Training Networks (ITN). New horizons keep opening up. Please read on. 

Prof. Dirk Aarts, DiStruc Coordinator, University of Oxford
Research with sound of music

The annual Dutch Soft Matter groups meeting was held on 9 May 2017 at the Delft Science Centre. It featured several scheduled talks and short soundbites by early stage researchers. The DiStruc fellow Shari Finner (Van der Schoot group, TU Eindhoven) used a ukulele to present her soundbite on Percolation theory of lyotropic liquid crystals. "It was definitely a project way out of my comfort zone, but I am happy I’ve crossed that line", said Shari. Read her inspiring story on the DiStruc website

Watch the video
Read more
DiStruc events

First Joint DiStruc and Colldense meeting, 28 June - 2 July 2017, Heraklion (Greece)

Lucille Chambon, DiStruc ESR - FORTH (Greece):
Everybody was excited to come to Heraklion in the summer but couldn’t guess that a heat wave would strike Crete that week. Fortunately, the FORTH seminar room was air-conditioned. The meeting started with lectures on transferable skills, namely how difficult it is to write and keep patents. The second and third day we spent listening to each other’s progress reports. We had very productive discussions.

The social highlight of the meeting was the sailing trip on Friday afternoon. Far from the city, in the sea, the heat was less noticeable. We enjoyed helping the boat sail to a lovely bay of Dia island near Heraklion. We had a lot of fun swimming, jumping from boats and taking videos. Some of us observed urchins very closely and later had to remove spikes from their feet.

The next couple of days were very busy with the first joint DiStruc and Colldense Mini Conference. In the scientific program, each presentation of a DiStruc fellow was followed by a Colldense one. It was nice to discover the other network projects, advancements and similarities.

Overall, the meeting was fruitful, mainly because of the discussions between Distruc and Colldense students, strictly scientific during the presentations, and others - over a nice meal, e.g. joking about a joint paper on the attraction between watermelon seeds. It was generally agreed that more joint events should be organised, especially outreach.

Marion Roullet, Martina Foglino, Léo Gury - Colldense ESRs:

A round table discussion with Prof. Aarts focused on possibilities for further exchange between the two networks. The following decisions were taken:

  • Meetings/Trainings: Fellows of each network will be invited to events organised by the other network. The attendance will not be mandatory but will give equal opportunities to all fellows.
  • Outreach events: The Colldense fellows were invited to participate in the next Squishy Soft Science event organised by DiStruc, either with their own workshops or as contributors. An even more ambitious goal was set - to bring this workshop to the Edinburgh Science Festival, one of the biggest science festivals in Europe.  
  • Communication: The Colldense and Distruc fellows will have a mailing list.
We hope that the networking opportunity offered by this joint meeting will enable future collaborations and post-docs.

Mohandas, DiStruc ESR - FORTH (Greece):
It was interesting to hear about the work carried out by fellows of another ITN project. It opened up new channels for communication between us. The science, Greek summer and social events made this meeting special and enjoyable.

See our photo gallery

Jülich, December 2017

The sixth DiStruc meeting will be hosted by Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH, 4 - 8 December 2017. The programme will include a Progress meeting and Master classes delivered by the DiStruc fellows on selected topics. Since this is a closed event, only members of the DiStruc network will be invited to attend. We look forward to seeing some of you there!
Read more

Hot off the press

Luuk Metselaar (Yeomans' group, University of Oxford) published the 4th DiStruc paper, "Electric-field-induced shape transition of nematic tactoids", in the journal Physical Review E.
Abstract: The occurrence of new textures of liquid crystals is an important factor in tuning their optical and photonics properties. Here, we show, both experimentally and by numerical computation, that under an electric field chitin tactoids (i.e., nematic droplets) can stretch to aspect ratios of more than 15, leading to a transition from a spindlelike to a cigarlike shape. We argue that the large extensions occur because the elastic contribution to the free energy is dominated by the anchoring. We demonstrate that the elongation involves hydrodynamic flow and is reversible: the tactoids return to their original shapes upon removing the field.

Luuk Metselaar, Ivan Dozov, Krassimira Antonova, Emmanuel Belamie, Patrick Davidson, Julia M. Yeomans, and Amin Doostmohammadi. Phys. Rev. E 96, 022706, 2017.
Maxime Tortora (Doye's group, University of Oxford) published the 3rd DiStruc paper, entitled "Perturbative density functional methods for cholesteric liquid crystals", in the Journal of Chemical Physics.
Abstract: We introduce a comprehensive numerical framework to generically infer the emergent macroscopic properties of uniaxial nematic and cholesteric phases from that of their microscopic constituent mesogens. This approach, based on the full numerical resolution of the Poniewierski-Stecki equations in the weak chirality limit, may expediently handle a wide range of particle models through the use of Monte Carlo sampling for all virial-type integrals. Its predictions in terms of equilibrium cholesteric structures are found to be in excellent agreement with previous full-functional descriptions, thereby demonstrating the quantitative validity of the perturbative treatment of chirality for pitch lengths as short as a few dozen particle diameters. Furthermore, the use of the full angle-dependent virial coefficients in the Onsager-Parsons-Lee formalism increases its numerical efficiency by several orders of magnitude over that of these previous methods. The comparison of our results with numerical simulations however reveals some shortcomings of the Parsons-Lee approximation for systems of strongly non-convex particles, notwithstanding the accurate inclusion of their full effective molecular volume. Further potential limitations of our theory in terms of phase symmetry assumptions are also examined, and prospective directions for future improvements are discussed.

Maxime M. C. Tortora, Jonathan P. K. Doye. J. Chem. Phys. 146, 184504, 2017.
Read more
Dates for your diary
  • 4-8 December 2017 - DiStruc Meeting, Jülich, Germany
  • 29 June - 5 July 2018 - DiStruc Meeting, Oxford, UK, including the 6th Playing Colloidal Mikado International Conference

About DiStruc

DiStruc (Directed Structure at the mesoscale) is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network funded by the EU. The goals of DiStruc are three-fold: (i) scientifically, to understand and direct structure formation in dispersions of elongated colloidal particles by internal and external means; (ii) practically, to exploit this knowledge for rational product development of fast moving consumer goods and high-performance fibres; (iii) to train the next generation of European researchers at the highest level with a multidisciplinary academic and industrial skill set. DiStruc runs for four years (2015-2018), and brings together partners from 6 different European countries including universities, research institutions and industries.
This issue was edited by Prof. Dirk Aarts and Dr. Pavlina Schmitz
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 641839.
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