Chemoresponsive Liquid Crystalline Materials
Nicholas Abbott, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, wants to accelerate the discovery and deployment of chemically-responsive materials. These materials would be based on liquid crystals interfaced with metal surfaces, capable of generating optical outputs when exposed to targeted small (gas phase) molecules. This class of liquid crystalline materials have high technological potential due to their ability to sense specific organic molecules important to chemical industries, law enforcement, defense, and medicine.
Prior efforts to develop this class of materials were hampered by the need to perform large numbers of laborious experiments. In contrast, Abbott’s methodology uses iterative cycles of electronic structure computations, syntheses of new molecules, and advanced materials characterization to improve all three aspects of the approach—accelerating the realization of chemically-responsive liquid crystals.
The project is also contributing to the training of a next generation workforce versed in a new, accelerated materials deployment paradigm for rapid design and development of functional materials. The work is advancing synthetic methodology, leading to functional organic mesogens that possess tailored interactions at metal and alloy interfaces. The efforts of Abbot’s interdisciplinary team will be integrated by data management that interfaces with U.S. national databases. This will contribute to the national infrastructure by promoting access to data and metadata for the scientific and industrial community.