It is well-known that liquid crystals (LCs) are a state of matter in between the liquid and the crystal. In LCs, the molecules are partially ordered, for example, by all pointing in more or less the same direction. LCs have very wide ranging applications in display technology and optics generally.
Researchers at Glasgow University’s School of Chemistry led by Prof Klaas Wynne have discovered a novel LC phase in n-butanol that is not in between the liquid and the crystal. He explains “It is highly surprising that n-butanol forms a LC at all as this molecule is very much shorter than typical LC-forming molecules. Most surprising though is that this LC inhibits, or ‘frustrates’, the formation of the crystal”.
Research assistant Dr Chris Syme says “Using microscopy, we have been able to make movies showing that, if we force the formation of crystals somewhere in the liquid, these crystals do not penetrate the LC droplets, thus demonstrating the “frustration’ effect. We used confocal Raman microscopy to prove that we were dealing with a frustrating LC phase. The cherry on the cake was provided by synchrotron microfocus X-ray scattering at the Diamond Light Source in Oxford that allowed us to prove that we were dealing with a rippled lamellar phase.”
Wynne adds “This result may sound a little bit arcane but is has significant implications for our understanding of the formation of glasses that have myriad technological applications. The type of frustrated phase that we observe is likely to be unrecognised but common in liquids and therefore a template for many other liquids that supercool and form glasses.”
The paper entitled “Frustration of crystallisation by a liquid–crystal phase” is published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports on 17 February 2017 and is available for free download under a Creative Commons CC BY license at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep42439.
11 March 2016: Tommy Harwood successfully defended his thesis today at the Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences (SIPBS). Tommy studied for his PhD under Elizabeth Ellis (SIPBS) and came to work in the UCP labs in 2012 to do terahertz spectroscopy of biomolecules and optical Kerr-effect spectroscopy of small biomolecules, proteins, and DNA. Although he is not officially our PhD student, in practice he did all the spectroscopy experiments under our supervision at Glasgow University.
Check out our paper "Terahertz underdamped vibrational motion governs protein-ligand binding in solution" came out in Nature Communications.
November 2015: A £0.5M EPSRC grant “Mapping and controlling nucleation” was awarded to Klaas Wynne and David France in the School of Chemistry. The nucleation of new phases from solution, such as the nucleation of crystals, is of immense importance to both industry and fundamental science. Industrial crystallisation has changed little in the past 350 years and suffers from an embarrassing lack of control with sometimes unexpected and severe financial consequences. The new research programme will image and control the early stages of nucleation. Driving liquid systems very far from equilibrium will allow the creation of meta- and unstable states that will give rise to nucleation and spinodal decomposition. The subsequent highly non-equilibrium processes will be controlled using a novel instrument that will change the study of crystal nucleation and will make the first steps towards control over the polymorph that crystallises. It involves laser-induced nucleation using powerful picosecond and femtosecond lasers, and programmable optics.
June 2015: We were joined by Finlay Walton, initially as summer project student for summer 2015 and in October as a PhD student. The summer project involves the study of mosquitos while the PhD project will be on microscopy of phase transitions.
March 2015: Mapping and Controlling (Crystal) Nucleation. Applications are invited for a fully-funded 3.5-year PhD studentship at the University of Glasgow to study the chemical physics of (crystal) nucleation in the Ultrafast Chemical Physics (UCP) group in the School of Chemistry under the supervision of Prof Klaas Wynne. The PhD project involves (laser) microscopy and laser control of the early stages of nucleation in liquids. It involves laser-induced nucleation using powerful lasers and programmable diffractive optics. The new instrument will be used to carry out experiments that range from creating crystals of the desired type to shedding light on the origins of life. We are now looking for a PhD student who is interested in developing new imaging techniques including the use of spatial light modulators and interfacing a microscope with a high power pulsed laser. The ideal candidate for this position is a chemical physicist, physical chemist, or somebody with knowledge of optics or microscopy. The PhD student will be working alongside a team of postdoctoral researchers with experience in ultrafast techniques, chemical physics, and microscopy. More information and application details can be found here.
May 2014: Our paper "Stokes-Einstein-Debye Failure in Molecular Orientational Diffusion: Exception or Rule?" finally came out in J .Phys. Chem. B, see http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jp5012457. It truely has the loveliest Kerr-effect/Raman data I have ever seen.
21 February 2014: Dr Gopakumar (Gopa) Ramakrishna officially started at Research Assistant in the group. Gopa will concentrate on terahertz spectroscopy.
2 December: Today, Dr Mario González Jiménez officially started as a Research Assistant in the group. He'll be working on femtosecond spectroscopy of biomolecules.
1 October 2013: Today, Judith Reichenbach officially started her PhD studies in the group. She'll be working on nucleation using femtosecond spectroscopy.
April 2013: Another EPSRC grant funded on "Solvation dynamics and structure around proteins and peptides: collective network motions or weak interactions"
October 2012: Dr Christopher Syme has started as a research associate in the group. He will be using confocal fluorescence microscopy and fluorescence lifetime imaging to study phase transitions in liquids.
May 2012: Fully funded PhD studentships in the Wynne group. Applications are invited for a number of PhD studentships in the Wynne group. Some of these studentships are part of the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC).
9 May 2012: Our paper "The dynamic crossover in water does not require bulk water" just came out in PCCP, see doi:10.1039/c2cp40703e. In a nutshell, it shows that you only need one water molecule to have bulk water properties (as long as that water molecule can form a water pentamer).
18/4/12: The latest issue of PCCP (Physical Chemistry and Chemical Physics), the top physical chemistry journal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, is dedicated to such ultrafast chemical dynamics. The special issue was guest edited by Prof Klaas Wynne in the School of Chemistry at Glasgow University and his colleague Dr Neil Hunt at the University of Strathclyde. Special issue PCCP on Ultrafast Chemical Dynamics.
October 2011: The Ultrafast Chemical Physics group has won a £0.7M EPSRC grant to study liquid-liquid phase transitions using microscopy in collaboration with Chemical Engineering at Strathclyde. EPSRC grant for UCP group.
7 July 2011: the EPSRC-funded Coherent regenerative amplifier (producing 23-fs 2.7-mJ 800-nm pulses at a repetition rate of 1 kHz) has been reinstalled in our lab again. This is in addition to a new Coherent Micra-10 (producing 15-fs 800-nm pulses at 80 MHz).
May 2011: A Faraday Discussion on 'Mesostructure and dynamics in liquids and solution' will be held in September 2013 most likely in Bristol.The organising committee consists at the moment of Alan Soper (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory), Austen Angell (Arizona State University), Ken Seddon (Queen's Belfast), Stephen Meech (UEA), an Klaas Wynne (Glasgow University).
October 2010: Next Ultrafast Chemical Physics meeting (UCP 2011) set for 14-16 December 2011 at the University of Strathclyde. Confirmed speakers include Prof David Klug (Imperial College, multidimensional spectroscopy), Prof Andrea Cavalleri (University of Oxford, femtosecond X-ray science) and Prof Klaas Wynne (University of Glasgow, terahertz spectroscopy). In addition we have confirmed attendance of Prof Dwayne Miller (University of Toronto) as plenary speaker for the conference.
August 2010: Our paper in JACS (described in Serving nanoparticle “soup”) has been cited 19 times on Web of Science exactly one year after its publication. It describes how using multiple spectroscopies, we discovered mesoscopic structure in room-temperature ionic liquids.
12 May 2008: Groups wins £0.6M EPSRC grant "Two-dimensional terahertz–IR spectroscopy: a unique probe of ultrafast hydrogen-bond dynamics of liquid water and model systems" by KW, JOK, and DJSB.
2 May 2008: Strathclyde will host the "International Workshop on ultrafast physical-chemistry 2008 (UCP ‘08)" on 30/31 October 2008 to be held in the Senate/Court suite. Plenary speaker is Prof Robin Hochstrasser FRSE (University of Pennsylvania). Confirmed invited speakers are Prof Casey Hynes (CNRS, Paris and University of Colorado, Boulder), Prof Charles Schmuttenmaer (Yale), Prof Majed Chergui (Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne), Prof Mischa Bonn (AMOLF, Amsterdam), Prof Peter Hamm (University of Zurich), and Prof Thomas Elsaesser (Max Born Institute, Berlin). The workshop is organised by Angus J. Bain (UCL), David Klug (Imperial), Steve Meech (UEA), Neil Hunt (Strathclyde), and Klaas Wynne (Strathclyde).
24 April 2008: Our paper "Glasslike Behavior in Aqueous Electrolyte Solutions" came out in J. Chem. Phys. A summary of the paper in simple terms (best attempt anyway) is on the page The science of syrup and traffic jams.
4 March 2008: Visiting professor Robin Hochstrasser of the University of Pennsylvania has been elected Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. This is a prestigious fellowship for scientists of great international renown and we are delighted that Robin has been honoured in this way.
18 March 2007: New paper in JACS on terahertz spectra associated with a helix to coil transition in a peptide. Read more about it in the research highlight Observing ‘The Lubricant of Life’