The Soft Materials Research Center is organized to pursue the discovery of novel phenomena and the creation of new paradigms in soft materials in two principal areas:

  The understanding and application of liquid crystals are among the great scientific and technological achievements of the twentieth century, with integrated electronics and liquid crystal displays combining to enable the portable computing revolution.  In the 21st century, the study of liquid crystals offers unparalleled opportunities to advance the basic science and materials design of condensed matter, and to develop new liquid crystal applications. Novel device concepts and materials forming the basis for for high-performance displays, as well as for advanced photonic devices and other non-display applications of liquid crystals. Liquid crystal structural themes are at the core of the effort in IRG-1 to pursue supermolecular organization and self-assembly of complex materials.

  Recent years have seen breathtaking advances in nanoscale science emerging from the adaptation of the evolved capabilities of DNA to the programmed self-assembly of nanostructures. CNAs are DNA analogs in which the monomer base units are joined using photo-initiated thiol-ene click ligation, a family of chemistries known for their robust, clean reactions. CNAs materials with monomer chain and base structures that can be widely tuned to control characteristics like flexibility, chirality and compatibility are the focus of IRG-2, research that aims to bring sequence-directed self-assembly to the materials realm.

The Soft Materials Research Center (SMRC), an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), combines research activity with vigorous programs of educational and industrial outreach. The SMRC is based at the Boulder Campus of the University of Colorado, and directed by Noel Clark, Professor of Physics.

Researchers Probe Banana Helical Nanofilaments with Resonant X-Rays


In a collaboration with Center scientists, researchers at the Advanced Light Source in Berkeley have directly measured the pitch of helical nanofilaments in the B4 liquid crystal phase using linearly polarized, resonant soft X-ray scattering. (12/15)
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Origins of primordial DNA proposed

topological colloid

The self-organization properties of DNA-like molecular fragments four billion years ago may have guided their own growth into repeating chemical chains long enough to act as a basis for primitive life, says a new study by Center members at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Milan. The findings suggest a novel scenario for the non-biological origins of nucleic acids, which are the building blocks of living organisms. (4/15).
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