Rheological Dynamics of Liquid Crystals under Thermal Gradients

How To Apply

Interested in participating in this research project? Contact the professor or graduate student listed below.


Dr. Ruel McKenzie (Polymer Engineering) | rmckenzie@uakron.edu

Graduate Students

Harini Sridharan | hs141@zips.uakron.edu
Albree Weisen | arw96@zips.uakron.edu

Project Description

Our group has developed a rheological apparatus capable of sustaining spatial thermal gradients in shear rheometry. It is hypothesized that orthogonally superimposed thermal fields will produce linear, field-averaged rheological responses up to a threshold where anomalous, thermo-rheological dissipative phenomena will occur. The molecular influence of heat flow, especially at reduced dimensions, is from entropy production. Translational and orientational motions evolve as a molecular compensation mechanism. Investigating rheological dynamics under such a nonequilibrium state encompasses a drive to discover materials that are active in energy exchange processes with the environment. In materials, thermodynamic forces are known to have reciprocal relationships and any foreseeable application will be concerned with the efficiency at which heat is converted to useful energy. Results from this study may highlight alternative methods to process, operate and store materials with enhanced physical properties or to engineer discrete field-driven mesostructures. The potential impact of understanding the rheological mechanisms coupled with heat transfer will be in the capacity to target materials with exceptional sensitivities to thermal flux because this can be advantageous when engineering materials such as heat transfer films, thermo-electric generators, thermal energy harvesters and storers. We are seeking a motivated and ambitious student to study the rheological dynamics of thermotropic liquid crystals under thermal gradients. It is known that liquid crystals develop torque under thermal gradients, however the underlying mechanism and physical measurements of this phenomenon are yet to be explored. Our aim is to phenomenologically investigate and systematically understand the underlying mechanisms involved in the development of torque in thermotropic liquid crystals under thermal gradients towards the development of molecular motors.

Project Dates

Open until further noticed

Search Terms

Advanced Materials, Sustainability, Chemical Physics/Physical Chemistry, For Credit, Non-Credit, Non-Funded, STEM