• BCAM participates in the LICI project, Liquid Crystals and Interactions in which Prof. Arghir Zarnescu is the principal investigator

Prof. Arghir Zarnescu is, since 2016, the group leader of the research line Applied Analysis at the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics – BCAM and Ikerbasque Research Professor. Prof. Zarnescu did his undergraduate studies in Romania and a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago (USA). He spent five years in working as lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Sussex (UK). Since 2015, he is a senior researcher at the “Simion Stoilow” Insitute of Mathematics in Bucharest.

The LICI project belongs to the “research challenges” category of the National R&D&I programme 2020. For the principal investigator, “the selection of the LICI project is a recognition of the work done by the Applied Analysis group”.

The project concerns nematic liquid crystals, the most studied and used type of liquid crystals, in particular the type that is present in displays of telephones and televisions. Most mathematical studies up to now have focused just on the material itself. “Liquid Crystals and interactions aim to study certain key problems concerning the interactions of the material with other types of materials and fields, mathematically addressing contexts of high relevance in practice”, explains Prof. Arghir Zarnescu.

About the most interesting features of the project, Prof. Zarnescu says that “the project brings together different types of mathematics, in non-trivial interactions. It is mainly based on partial differential equations models for liquid crystals. However, the specific features of these models also require non-trivial and non-standard interactions with topology, algebra and geometry. These interactions provide some of the most challenging and interesting problems to be studied”.

In the future the project will create the mathematical basis for investigating new classes of optical devices. “In particular liquid-crystal based versions of so-called bistable device for which electricity is used just to switch images (as in most Kindle type tablets, which are not using liquid crystals), not to maintain them (as in iPad for instance)”, adds the Applied Analysis group leader, “it will open new ways of designing advance devices in the future, so conceivably it will contribute to the society in the longer term.”

The challenges Prof. Arghir Zarnescu has in mind for the future, are the importance to maintain alive various collaborations with various groups worldwide, “in the strange new world created by the pandemic. Online meetings can help of couse, but they have various sever limitations”.

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