KU Leuven

Jan Vermant

Professor of Chemical Engineering, KU Leuven

Professor of Soft Materials, ETH Zurich  

Prof. Vermant studied Chemical Engineering at KU Leuven in Belgium, obtaining the doctoral degree in 1996 under the supervision of Prof. Jan Mewis. He was a postdoctoral fellow of Elf Aquitaine and the Fund for Scientific Research - (FWO) Vlaanderen, which had him working at Stanford University with G. Fuller,  The CNRS-CEMEF (P. Navard) and CNRS -CRPP (D. Roux), the Unversity of Delaware and KU Leuven. In 2000 he joined the faculty at the department of Chemical Engineering at KU Leuven, becoming a full professor in 2005. In 2014 he joined the Materials Department at the ETH Zürich, where he now resides. He has held visiting appointments at Stanford University (USA), University of Delaware (USA), Princeton University (USA), the Forschungszentrum jülich (G) and the ESPCI (F).  Major Awards include a Dupont Young Faculty Award (USA), the  FWO-ExxonMobil European Chemical Science & Engineering Award (EU), the  Journal of Rheology Publication Award. Jan Vermant is  a Fellow of The Royal Society of Chemistry (UK). He is the editor of Rheologica Acta.


Brandeis University

Zvonimir Dogic

Associate Professor of Physics

The research interests of Zvonimir Dogic and his group lie in elucidating rules that govern self-assembly of materials, with a particular emphasis being placed on the role the particle's shape and chirality play in these assembly processes.  We strive to create very simple model systems in which precise control is possible over all the relevant parameters. This enables a rigorous and detailed comparison with theoretical predictions. The particles we use have very simple hard core repulsive interactions. Despite the apparent simplicity of these building blocks, we have demonstrated that through a careful choice of particle shape and chirality it is possible to assemble at least half a dozen unique structures.

Université Paris-Sud

Patrick Davidson

Directeur de Recherche CNRS, Laboratoire de Physique des Solides UMR, Université Paris Sud 

The research activities of Patrick Davidson and his group deal with the organization and dynamics of soft condensed matter, like liquid crystals, colloids, polymers … Among these systems, colloidal liquid-crystals, i.e. the suspensions of rod-like (or plate-like) particles that are the focus of the Distruc ITN particularly raise our attention. We explore the polymorphism of these systems by optical microscopy and X-ray scattering and we examine how they are affected by electric and magnetic fields. Moreover, we investigate the self-assembly of plate-like nanoparticles when their colloidal suspensions become unstable.  We also elaborate hybrid materials by mixing plate-like and spherical particles, by doping lamellar phases of surfactants with nanorods, or by preparing aligned polymer/nanorod composite materials.  

Manchester University

David Dunmur

Emeritus Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy (visiting appointment)

The research interests of David Dunmur and his collaborators are focussed on the physical properties of thermotropic liquid crystals and the relationships between the structures of the constituent molecules (mesogens) and their organisation and physical properties in mesophases. Particular areas of interest have been concerned with the electrooptical properties of liquid crystals, their torsional elastic properties and the dielectric properties of the phases. More recently, attention has been directed to the understanding of the liquid crystal phases formed from molecules with internal flexibility. We have shown that such systems have new features in their dielectric response and a theory has been developed to explain such behaviour. A surprising recent result of this work was the discovery and identification of a new nematic liquid crystal phase formed from flexible mesogens, which has been called the twist-bend nematic phase. The development of theories and the investigation of the properties of the twist-bend phase is an on-going activity.