Fluid dispersions containing highly elongated colloidal particles form a plethora of ordered, liquid-crystalline states as well as glassy and gel-like disordered states already at very low concentrations. In spite of their remarkable properties, industrial applications of such dispersions have entered the market only relatively recently, in contrast to more conventional low-molecular-weight, liquid-crystalline fluids for which the major practical applications are in opto-electronic device technology, e.g., in displays, optical imaging and smart glass. Important potential applications of colloidal liquid crystals can be found in the manufacturing of high-performance fibres and in fast moving consumer goods, such as foods and home and personal care.
To accelerate the exploitation applications of colloidal liquid crystals and their market introduction, we seek to push the field in a new, innovative direction where rod-like colloidal particles of a very diverse nature are used to form structures with a well-defined direction: Directed Structure (DiStruc) at the mesoscopic level. Our focus will be on the role of confinement and flow, highly relevant to industrial applications. This will open avenues for a bottom-up, rational design of industrial processes, which is an important step to protect the competitive role of European industries on the global market. At the same time, scientifically novel physical phenomena will be explored protecting the leading role of Europe in the field of soft condensed matter. Most importantly, DiStruc provides a training ground for the next generation of European researchers, unique in its interdisciplinary scope, covering physics, chemistry, biology, materials and engineering, its depth, creating a mind-set where experiments, theory and computer simulations go hand-in-hand, and its focus on the chain of knowledge from basic to applied research through close industrial involvement.