Ingo Dierking, featured ILCC liquid crystal artist, January 2017

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Ingo Dierking is a Senior Lecturer / Associate Professor at the School of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. His research is related to different Soft Matter systems, particularly the physics of liquid crystals, polymer modified liquid crystals, and liquid crystal - nanoparticle dispersions. His current research interests are mainly focussed on ferroelectric nanoparticles in nematic and ferroelectric smectic phases, carbon nanomaterials in liquid crystals, lyotropic phases of graphene oxide, chirality effects, and colloidal particles to stabilize frustrated phases. In his spare time Ingo is involved in "Science meets Art" and other arts projects.
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The image was taken with a polarizing microscope (Leica DMLP) directly at the phase transition from the non-birefringent isotropic liquid to the birefringent nematic phase of a liquid crystal mixture on a non-treated glass plate. The long side of the photograph has a length of 500 micrometres. The narrow biphasic region gives rise to the formation of small nematic droplets and larger areas towards the edges of the micro-photograph only being outlined by their birefringent interfaces with the isotropic liquid. The texture somehow reminds of a crowd of people walking along a hilly landscape in a dark night.
Jury comment: The warm colored homeotropic nematic droplets look like lanterns in the dark winter nights.