NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institute (EAPSI) for FY 2013 in Japan

Project: Research project

Project Details


This action funds Lauren Dell Zarzar of Harvard University to conduct a research project in the Math and Physical Sciences area during the summer of 2013 at the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, Japan. The project title is Self-Assembly of Mechanically-Responsive Liquid Crystals within Deformable Substrates.' The host scientist is Professor Takashi Kato.

For many materials where there exists a strong structure-function relationship, the process of directed self-assembly shows great promise as a general approach by which to influence materials properties via the control of nanoscale order. Self-assembly of liquid crystals, as well as other materials, is a sensitive dynamic process and the resulting assembled structure is affected by tunable external and internal parameters, one of which is the new surface interactions resulting from geometric confinement. Specifically, this project focuses on the assembly of luminescent liquid crystals within flexible nano/microscale 3D-patterned surfaces. The color of luminescence of this particular class of liquid crystals is sensitive to the self-assembled structure of the molecules. This project therefore focuses on 1) how certain surface and geometric parameters affect initial assembly order/color of the liquid crystals within confinement and 2) how subsequent changes in these geometric parameters (such as by substrate deformation) may trigger reorganization of the liquid crystal molecules into a new self-assembled structure with different properties. The ability to use rationally designed confining surfaces to externally trigger a material's self-reorganization/assembly could lead to the development of a novel, transformative class of 'smart' materials capable of adapting to external pressures via self-assembling mechanisms. The development of numerous 'smart' materials could impact every-day life, including wearable technologies, self-camouflaging surfaces, and tamper-reporting labels.

Broader impacts of an EAPSI fellowship include providing the Fellow a first-hand research experience outside the U.S.; an introduction to the science, science policy, and scientific infrastructure of the respective location; and an orientation to the society, culture and language. These activities meet the NSF goal to educate for international collaborations early in the career of its scientists, engineers, and educators, thus ensuring a globally aware U.S. scientific workforce. Furthermore, the results of this research will be disseminated through presentation, publication, and public outreach programs, including the development of a hands-on demonstration that will introduce young students to the concepts of liquid crystals and self-assembly.

Effective start/end date6/1/135/31/14


  • National Science Foundation: $5,070.00


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