Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Self-Assembly of Nanoparticles in 2D Nematic Colloidal Crystals: Photonic Crystals and Metamaterials

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.02.01  Natural sciences and mathematics  Physics  Physics of condesed matter 

Code Science Field
P260  Natural sciences and mathematics  Condensed matter: electronic structure, electrical, magnetic and optical properties, supraconductors, magnetic resonance, relaxation, spectroscopy 
nanoparticles, colloids, liquid crystals, self-assembly, photonic materials, metamaterials
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (8)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  14080  PhD Denis Arčon  Physics  Researcher  2007 - 2009  594 
2.  19165  PhD Marjetka Conradi  Physics  Researcher  2007 - 2009  158 
3.  09089  PhD Igor Muševič  Physics  Head  2007 - 2009  750 
4.  01120  PhD Janez Pirš  Physics  Researcher  2007 - 2009  238 
5.  12338  PhD Miha Škarabot  Physics  Researcher  2007 - 2009  253 
6.  22137  Bernarda Urankar  Educational studies  Researcher  2009  26 
7.  28235  PhD Erik Zupanič  Physics  Technical associate  2009  130 
8.  07110  PhD Slobodan Žumer  Physics  Researcher  2007 - 2009  1,026 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  90,600 
2.  1554  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics  Ljubljana  1627007  34,059 
The ability to generate regular spatial arrangements of particles is an important technological and fundamental aspect of nanotechnology and colloidal science. The objective of the proposed project is to explore the natural limits of colloidal and nanoparticle self-assembling mechanisms in the nematic liquid crystals. The project has a clearly identified target of creating long range, spontaneously assembled 2D and possibly 3D periodic photonic structures with intentionally included metallic defects in the liquid crystal. In view of that, we intend to: (i) explore the physics of self-assembling spherical and cylindrical dielectric objects in regular spatial patterns using structural forces in nematic liquid crystals, and, (ii) explore the physics of spatial segregation of metal nanoparticles at defect points and circular topological lines around the colloidal particles in the nematic liquid crystal, thus spontaneously creating micro and nanostructures mimicking interleaved lattices of line conductors and ring resonators for negative refractive index materials. The novelty and the originality of the proposed project is in its simplicity and firm basis, reported in our recent publication in Science (I. Muševič et al., Science, Vol. 313, 954(2006), August 18, 2006). The results of the project could have important implications for the photonic technology, particularly in the field of photonic crystals and negative refractive index metamaterials.
Significance for science
The results of this project are important for the science of colloids. The subfield of nematic colloids, which are dispersions of solid or liquid pyrticles in the nematic liquid crystal, was largely unexplored before 2004. Since then, it has gained sudden and unexpectedly strong momentum, which has resulted in very fast development of the subfield. This was not only driven by the unusually large variety of phenomena, observed in nematic colloids, but has also attracted attention because of possible applications in photonics. The goal of the proposal of this project was to understand the nature of, at that time (2007), largely unexplored colloidal forces in nematic colloids. It was known, that these forces are of long range and very strong, leading to colloidal interactions, which are several orders of magnitude stronger compared to water based colloids. This allows for a new approach to colloidal self-assembly in 2D and now, as we know, also 3D nematic colloidal crystals. The results of this project have shown several new mechanisms of nematic colloidal self assembly, such as hieararchical assembly in the mixtures of large and small colloids, colloidal entanglement with topological defect loops and colloidal interactions in the limit of nanometer-sized colloids. In the last year of this project, we have succeeded in assembling the first 3D nematic colloidal crystals, and we have shown that the nematic colloidal interaction is very strong even for 100 nm diameter colloidal particles. In chiral nematic colloids we have observed unusually rich variety of knotted and linked colloids.
Significance for the country
The research within the proposed project had a significant impact on the sustainable development of Slovenia. The achievements of the group represent world's top scientific accomplishments in the subfield of nematic colloids, thus importantly strengthening the national identity of Slovenia. Moreover, the group represented a nucleus, transferring scientific achievements to Slovenia from abroad. We should stress that the project group put significant efforts also in the scientific outreach for the broad Slovenian public. Within our group several candidates have completed their PhD theses, resulting in the employment of highly-qualified personnel. Finally, the participation in international projects (EU) in specialized fields lead to active participation in the world R&D in the field of LCs. This is evidenced by international award "Samsung Mid Carreer Award, which was given in 2008 to project leader, Prof. Igor Musevic. We have also been successful in achieving Marie Curie Training Network project HIERARCHY, which is based on international consortium of 9 top EU institutions. The theme of the project is closely related to soft matter colloids.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2008, final report, complete report on dLib.si
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2008, final report, complete report on dLib.si
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