Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Topology and Photonics of Liquid Crystal Colloids and Dispersions

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.02.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Physics   

Code Science Field
P260  Natural sciences and mathematics  Condensed matter: electronic structure, electrical, magnetic and optical properties, supraconductors, magnetic resonance, relaxation, spectroscopy 

Code Science Field
1.03  Natural Sciences  Physical sciences 
experimental topology, photonics, physics of liquid crystals, soft matter physics, colloids, dispersions
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (16)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  38008  PhD Jure Aplinc  Physics  Researcher  2016 - 2017  24 
2.  36477  PhD Miha Čančula  Physics  Researcher  2014 - 2016  26 
3.  29528  PhD Matjaž Humar  Physics  Researcher  2014 - 2017  186 
4.  03321  Ivan Kvasić  Physics  Technical associate  2014 - 2017  22 
5.  37721  PhD Giorgio Mirri  Chemical engineering  Researcher  2015 - 2017  11 
6.  36351  PhD Maruša Mur  Physics  Junior researcher  2014 - 2017  21 
7.  09089  PhD Igor Muševič  Physics  Head  2014 - 2017  752 
8.  33744  PhD Maryam Nikkhou  Physics  Researcher  2015 - 2016  14 
9.  35477  PhD Gregor Posnjak  Physics  Researcher  2014 - 2017  34 
10.  26465  PhD Matej Pregelj  Physics  Researcher  2015 - 2017  131 
11.  25670  PhD Miha Ravnik  Physics  Researcher  2015 - 2017  443 
12.  29540  PhD Brigita Rožič  Physics  Researcher  2016 - 2017  301 
13.  33107  PhD David Seč  Physics  Researcher  2014  33 
14.  12338  PhD Miha Škarabot  Physics  Researcher  2014 - 2017  254 
15.  26467  PhD Uroš Tkalec  Physics  Researcher  2015 - 2017  213 
16.  07110  PhD Slobodan Žumer  Physics  Researcher  2014 - 2017  1,028 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  91,855 
2.  1554  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Mathematics and Physics  Ljubljana  1627007  34,510 
This project is from the rapidly evolving field of photonics, which is among the fastest developing scientific fields in the 21st century and includes very diverse subfields, ranging from quantum computing and teleportation to all-optic information technologies and light harvesting for sustainable development. This proposal aims at exploring the topology and photonics of soft matter, with a goal to develop future information and computer technology for all-optic processing of information. This project challenges the existing mainstream solid state approaches of datacom and telecom photonic roadmaps for information managing by proposing a soft matter photonic system, with advantages unattainable in solid-state approaches, like self-assembly, adaptiveness, and topological control of structure and light. The idea of the project is firmly based on two foundations, which were developed by our group in recent five years. The first foundation is based on photonic properties of small droplets and fibres of self-assembled liquid crystals, which can be used as tunable optical microcavities, dye microlasers and excellent optical waveguides. This makes liquid crystal dispersions an excellent candidate for future and emergent photonic technologies (Humar et al., Nature Photonics 3, 595(2009). The second foundation is based on the topology of liquid crystal dispersions, which is best presented in our recent discovery of knots and links in chiral nematic colloids (Tkalec et al., Science 333, 62 (2022)). The topology of liquid crystal dispersions is not only a fascinating demonstration of mathematics, but is an excellent candidate for providing physical forces and bonds between objects in liquid crystals, thus enabling 3D assembly of structures in liquid crystals. This projects aims at uniting the knowledge from both the topology and photonics of liquid crystals, with a goal to understand the physics of future all-optic systems based on topological soft matter. Within this proposal, we intend to study the topology of complex bodies in liquid crystals and we shall use the Kibble-Zurek cosmological mechanism to generate topological charges on these objects. We shall explore the role of the topological genus of both the objects and the confining space, on the emergence of complex defects, such as links and knots in liquid crystals. This will not only advance our knowledge, but also provide practical grounds for future technologies. We also intend to study the interplay of the topology of matter and waves in topological soft matter by studying light propagation along defect lines or eigenwaves in complex resonators, such as the Moebius cavity. We are particularly interested in the dynamics of controlling the flow of light by light. We shall study the dynamics of fluorescence and nonlinear optics in liquid crystal microcavities. We want to study fluorescence temporal control by using stimulated emission depletion of the fluorescence (STED effect). As a final target for future technology, the project aims to demonstrate a topology-based all-optical-controlled all-liquid approach with subnanosecond time response, increasing the frequency response of today’s state-of-the-art soft matter liquid crystal devices by six orders of magnitude. We are confident that a successful realization of the proposed research project would have a deep and profound impact on future and emergent photonic technologies.
Significance for science
Scientific results of the research project "Topology and Photonics of Liquid Crystal Colloids" demonstrate the cutting edge quality of research, which is evidenced by papers published in Nature family of journals and invited lectures, presented at numerous international conferences. These accomplishments clearly demonstrate the world-leading role of the project group in the field of photonics and topology of soft matter. The project has accomplished significant new results in the field of experimental topology by in-depth studies of the Kibble-Zurek mechanism and its relation to topology during the symmetry breaking phase transition. The project has clarified several open questions such as the emergence of topological defects in and around topologically complex objects in liquid crystals. The project has illuminated the influence of the topology of confining space on the emergence of topological objects. A very important breakthrough has been achieved by developing a new experimental imaging technique, which allows for the full reconstruction of the ordering field and the analysis of topological defects. We have reported for the first time on the observation of polyvalent topological charges, which is the first observation in experimental topology. The project has achieved important new results in the field of ultrafast and fast optical phenomena in liquid crystals. It has for the first time demonstrated the use of nonlinear optical processes in liquid crystals and the stimulated emission depletion of fluorescence to control the flow of light by light at sub-nanosecond time scale. This has pushed the limits of our knowledge in and opened new scientific and technological pathways in future photonics.
Significance for the country
The successfully completed research project Topology and Photonics of Liquid Crystal Colloids and Dispersions has contributed strongly to the development of soft matter science in Slovenia and positioned the soft matter scientific community in Slovenia to the very cutting edge worldwide. Such a great success was possible only because very firm and coherent collaboration of the two leading research groups. The first is the experimental soft matter group led by Prof. I. Muševič at the J. Stefan Institute, the second is the numerical simulation theoretical group led by Prof. S. Žumer at Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at University of Ljubljana. Photonics is now recognized as one of the world leading scientific and technological disciplines that will dominate the future and emerging technologies of the 21st century. The two Slovenian groups have made some substantial contributions to the photonics worldwide, in particular by proposing a revolutionary idea of self-organized soft matter with photonic functionality. This is a vison of a soft matter photonic fabric that is processing light-encoded information by light-encoded commands. The successfully implemented research project has clearly demonstrated solid grounds for this idea by revealing physical and photonic properties of soft matter that provide realization of such photonic systems. The results of this project have been disseminated and communicated to the various international audiences and they are echoed back by the increase of citations related to this project as well as substantial number of invited talks at international conferences and workshops. In overall, this project shows substantial contribution to the increase of scientific relevance of Slovenia and world reputation of Slovenian science at large. These contributions are evidenced by: Publication of the results of this project in high impact international journals. We have published one article in Nature Physics (IF=22.8) and two articles in Nature Communications (IF=12.1). We have also published articles in medium impact journals, including two articles in Scientific Reports (IF=4.25) and two articles in Optics Express (IF=3.1). The Principal Investigator of this project, Prof. I. Muševič has delivered a plenary lecture related to topology and photonics at tha 4th International Soft Matter Conference in Grenoble, France, September 11-15, 2016. The members of the project team have delivered more than 20 invited lectures at international conferences, workshops and universities. US Patent US 9263843B2 entitled Spherical liquid-crystal laser, has been granted to authors I. Muševič and M. Humar, United States Patent Office, February 16, 2016. We have applied for PCT patent entitled Two mode electro-optic filter, authors A. Petelin and I. Muševič, WO2017117570 (A1). Geneve: International Bureau of WIPO = World Intellectual Property of Organization, July 7, 2017. The Principal Investigator of this project, Prof. I. Muševič has published a book upon the invitation of Springer publishers, entitled Liquid crystal colloids, (Soft and biological matter). Cham: Springer, cop. 2017. XV, 303 p.p., ilustr. ISBN 978-3-319-54914-9. The members of the project group have actively participated in three-year preparation and implementation of the major international conference on physics of liquid matter, Liquids 2017. The conference was held July 17-21 2017 in Ljubljana and was attended by 650 participants from 21 countries worldwide. The Chairman of Liquids 2017 was Prof. I. Muševič, PI of this project. There were three PhD Thesis completed from the theme of this project, Maryam Nikkhou, Miha Čančula and Gregor Posnjak.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2014, 2015, final report
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