Renfan Shao, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, August 2013
Renfan Shao has provided key support for the University of Colorado Boulder Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center since 1988. He graduated with a B.Sc. in Physics from Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing, China, in 1966, received M.Sc. degrees in Physics from the Graduate School of Academia Sinica (1981), and the Stevens Institute of Technology (1983), and worked at Nanjing Normal University as Teaching Assistant (1976-79), Assistant Professor (1984-86), and Associate Professor (1986-88). Mr. Shao is co-author on 73 publications from the Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center.
This especially beautiful B1 texture was obtained from a seven ring partially fluorinated chiral bent-core mesogen with C2 symmetry. The COL phase is ferroelectric, and shows nearly ideal bistable electrooptic switching in aligned domains, with a 10 V/µm threshold. Real width of the sample area contained in the picture is about 20 microns.
Jury comment: Once again the jury is drawn to a columnar texture for the August 2013 LC picture of the month. This texture is formed by the B1 phase of a 7-ring chiral bent-core material, and is similar to the texture seen for, e.g., the lyotropic columnar phase of DNA shown in the April 2009 LC picture of the month. However, this month's image is especially striking, seemingly reminiscent of some kind of colorful ocean plant life reaching for the sunlight - at least for this juror. The image gains added scientific interest from the unique ferroelectric EO behavior seen for this material in aligned domains.