Liquid crystals are a class of self-organized materials that exhibits mobile and ordered phases and display exceptional properties namely easy manipulability and processability, self-healing properties, anisotropy, responsiveness to external stimuli, etc. Furthermore, liquid crystals can also be endowed with additional functions and therefore can be employed for different applications in electronics, energy, sensing, filtration, etc.
Our research on liquid crystals exploits molecular engineering to create new self-assembled structures with specific functions. For this purpose, we utilize pi-conjugated scaffolds and dyes to develop photoactive liquid-crystalline materials. The newly developed systems are examined and characterized by different microscopic, calorimetric, and spectroscopic techniques combined with specific sample processing methodologies.
We are exploring different molecular design strategies for the preparation of new photoactive liquid-crystalline materials with uncommon organization of dyes and improved optoelectronic properties. Our ultimate goal consists of endowing these dye assemblies with highly dynamic and responsive features and fabricate liquid-crystalline devices.
During the past decades research on supramolecular polymers focused on the study of thermodynamic aspects of polymerization processes and their structure-property relationship. Recently, a lot of efforts have been addressed to elucidate the kinetic aspects of self-assembly processes unveiling new concepts like pathway complexity and supramolecular polymorphism. Importantly, these concepts have shown to be also crucial to control the structure and the properties of the supramolecular polymers.
Our research activity is devoted to design novel monomeric systems capable to exhibit pathway complexity and self-assemble into different supramolecular polymorphs. Our aim is to develop new strategies to control reversible supramolecular polymorph transitions upon external stimuli.
In this line, we study the supramolecular polymerization features of squaramide based systems in terms of pathway complexity and polymorphism. Squaramide groups can display two stable Z/E conformations (Z,E and Z,Z) enabling two different hydrogen bonding patterns and two assembly modes. We explore different strategies to control the self-assembly pathways of squaramide supramolecular polymers as well as their stimuli-responsive properties.