The SMRC comprises two Interdisciplinary Research Groups that unite the fields of physics, chemistry, chemical and biological engineering, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering toward the creation, understanding, development and application of novel, soft materials:
 

  IRG1: Liquid Crystal Frontiers conducts basic and applied research on the phases, structures and electro-optics of liquid crystals (LCs), focusing on the roles of chirality, polarity and topology in LC behavior, active LC interfaces, and functional and active LCs and LC assemblies.
  IRG2: Click Nucleic Acids is focused on exploring the sequence-directed self-assembly of functional soft materials using Click Nucleic Acids (CNAs). 

 

Both IRGs vertically integrate chemical synthesis, materials evaluation, and molecular modeling in a coherent research program directed toward broadening our basic scientific understanding of functional soft materials.


The SMRC is one of the principal centers of liquid crystal study and expertise in the US, with IRG1 research spanning the range from cutting-edge, basic LC science to the development of materials and devices with enhanced capabilities for electro-optic, nonlinear optic, energy, and sensing applications. The Center is a unique venue worldwide for research on polar and chiral condensed phases, and for engaging the exciting basic science and application opportunities that systems with liquid crystalline order offer. The SMRC has aggressively pursued its role as a principal US resource for the industrial development of LC technologies, doing collaborative research with a variety of companies.

IRG2 aims to bring sequence-directed self-assembly to the materials realm – a new materials paradigm. Realizing the potential of new DNA-based technologies in the materials realm will require dramatically lower cost, enhanced scalability, and a greatly expanded molecular structural scope. Click nucleic acids can be made in efficient volume reactors with monomer chain and base structures that can be widely tuned with respect to characteristics like flexibility, chirality and compatibility.


Although the principal worldwide focus of LC research is on applications, liquid crystals also present a variety of challenging problems and opportunities for advancing basic science. Surely one of the most exciting and challenging areas of condensed matter physics is understanding the connection between molecular and macroscopic properties of organic materials. LCs, by virtue of the intimate coupling of their distinctive molecular architectures and macroscopic properties, are a fruitful testing ground for studying this connection. Chiral LCs remain at the frontier of liquid crystal science, surprising us with unexpected phases, structures, fluctuations, interface behavior, and optical effects. We understand little of LC molecular-macroscopic relations, making the directed design of LCs almost more of an art than a science. LCs are sensitive indicators of orientational order and the chemical environment of active interfaces. The purpose of the Liquid Crystal Frontiers IRG is to provide a context in which these problems can be effectively addressed and for developing new LCs for advanced electrooptic, non-linear optic, and sensor applications.

The Click Nucleic Acid IRG is organized to carry out a broad exploration of the sequence-directed self-assembly of functional materials using CNAs, a new DNA analog system invented at the University of Colorado in which oligomer chains with DNA-style sequences of selected bases are synthesized using thiolene click chemistry. The resulting thio-ether backbone/base structure is similar in its essential geometry to that of DNA and other NA analogs such as peptide nucleic acid (PNA), enabling CNA to exhibit sequence-directed duplexing analogous to that of DNA, as is seen in atomistic molecular dynamic simulations and observed experimentally in complexation, gelation and biodetection studies. The rationale for this research theme is the realization that the synergistic combination of click chemistry and oligo-nucleotide synthesis has dramatic advantages in expanding sequence-directed assembly into the realm of practical materials science and technology.


IRG1: Liquid Crystal Frontiers
 
IRG2: Click Nucleic Acids

Noel A. Clark (Principal Investigator)
Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

David M. Walba (Co-Principal Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Meredith D. Betterton (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Matthew A. Glaser (Senior Investigator)
Research Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Douglas L. Gin (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Joseph E. Maclennan (Senior Investigator)
Research Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder,CO 80309

Leo R. Radzihovsky (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Markus B. Raschke (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Daniel Schwartz (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Sean E. Shaheen (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Richard K. Shoemaker (Senior Investigator)
Senior Research Associate
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Ivan I. Smalyukh (Senior Investigator)
Assistant Professor  
Department of Physics
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

 

Christopher N. Bowman (Co-Principal Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Jennifer N. Cha (Co-Principal Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Wounjhang Park (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Stephanie J. Bryant (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Steven M. George (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Arthi Jayaraman (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
University of Delaware
Newark, DE19716

Robert R. McLeod (Senior Investigator)
Associate Professor
Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Charles B. Musgrave (Senior Investigator)
Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Prashant Nagpal (Senior Investigator)
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Franck J. Vernery (Senior Investigator)
Assistant Professor
Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

Wei Zhang (Senior Investigator)
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309

 

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