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Welcome to the Liquid Crystal Physics Group, part of the Condensed Matter Laboratory in the Physics Department at the University of Colorado Boulder.

We are primarily interested in the physics of soft condensed matter/complex fluids, and much of our work is on liquid crystals.


The University of Colorado campus with the famous Boulder Flatirons beyond, viewed from the Duane Physics building.


islands on Smectic A film

Thin freely suspended smectic film viewed in reflected light, with islands of greater thickness showing intereference colors.


Research Highlight: Experimental Identification of the Ferroelectric Nematic Phase

Liquid crystal group members, in close collaboration with colleagues in the SMRC, have identified a liquid crystal that has the long sought-after ferroelectric nematic phase. Ferroelectric behavior has been observed previously in tilted chiral smectics and in bent-core smectics but a polar nematic phase has proven elusive for more than 100 years. The ferroelectric nematic responds readily to applied electric fields and displays a host of novel electrooptic and hydrodynamic properties. (6/20)

This research was published in X. Chen et al., PNAS 117, 14021 (2020). The article is accompanied by a Commentary by Oleg Lavrentovich.

Physics World rated this discovery as one of the Top 10 " Breakthroughs of the Year" for 2020.


ferroelectric nematic domains
Lens-shaped domains with opposite polarization are visible between crossed polarizers in the ferroelectric nematic phase of RM734.