Graduate Student Seminar

December 08, 2023

12:00 p.m. ET

Scaife Hall 105

Unraveling the governing factors for cholesteric liquid crystal self-assembly of polysaccharides

Thanks to their earth abundance and their ability to self-assemble in photonic crystals, cholesteric polysaccharides have been investigated as the basis for functional optical nanomaterials. However, the effects of polysaccharide chemistry and solvent-polymer interaction on the formation of the cholesteric phase remain understudied. In this talk, we explain how different thermodynamic and chemical factors influence the self-assembly and optical properties of cholesteric mesophases constructed from suspensions of polysaccharides, such as cellulose ethers. Through a systematic data analysis framework we developed, we elucidate structure-property relationships linking solubility, viscosity, and hydrogen bonding to the cholesteric pitch and resulting optical properties. Then, we discuss how chemical factors such as molecular weight and repeat-unit chemistry affect kinetics of liquid-crystalline self-assembly. These relationships are expected to assist in the large-scale deployment of polysaccharide-based functional materials with direct optical assessment of temperature, mechanical strain, or humidity.

Cécile A. C. Chazot, Northwestern University  

1208Chazot.jpgChazot (she/her/hers) is the Julia Weertman Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, where she leads the Sustainable Polymer Innovation laboratory (SPIn lab). Her research seeks to develop sustainable polymer-based materials, with an equal focus on environmental and societal impact. Her focus areas include fiber-based materials, biopolymers, large-scale processing, structural colors, and engineering education. She earned her Ph.D. in 2022 from the Department of Materials Science & Engineering (DMSE) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), under the supervision of Prof. A. John Hart, and a M.Sc. in Materials Science and Engineering from Mines Paristech (France). She is also a co-founder of the Materials Initiative for Comprehensive Research Opportunity (MICRO), a remote educational program to empower minoritized undergraduates to conduct research in materials science. Cecile’s work lies at the interface of educational initiatives and innovation in materials and manufacturing, which led her to receive the Arthur Nowick Award and a Silver Graduate Student Award at the 2021 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting.

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