Noel Clark Portrait
Professor of Distinction • Director - Soft Materials Research Center

Office: DUAN F613


Noel Clark received his PhD in Physics from MIT in 1970. He subsequently held the positions of Research Fellow and Assistant Professor of Applied Physics at Harvard, before moving to the University of Colorado in 1977.

Research Interests:

Research in Professor Clark's group is directed toward understanding and using the properties of condensed phases, ranging from experiments on the fundamental physics of phase transitions, such as melting, to the development of liquid crystal electro-optic light valves. The primary experimental tools are laser light scattering, electrooptics, video microscopy and high resolution synchrotron X-ray scattering. Much of the research is on the physics of liquid crystals, phases of matter having structure intermediate to that of liquids and solids, and on the physics of colloids, suspensions of one material in another that exhibit order on large length scales. These materials have become important testing grounds for modern theories of phase transitions, which is the principal focus of research. The group recently made a fundamental discovery about the nature of the melting transition, showing it to be a condensation of "broken bonds."

Applied research is in the area of liquid crystal electro-optics. Professor Clark's group has pioneered a major new liquid crystal electro-optic technology, employing ferroelectric liquid crystals to make high-speed bistable light valves. These devices, which can be configured into linear and matrix arrays, are of particular use in optical computing and are one of the principal technologies to be developed in the Center for Optoelectronic Computing Systems at the University of Colorado.

Recently the group has begun a new project on fabrication of structures on a nanometer length scale. This work, which grew out of their research on biomembrane liquid crystals, is directed toward using two-dimensional protein crystals as fabrication masks and templates.

Selected Publications:

  1. "CHIRAL HELICONICAL GROUND STATE OF NANOSCALE PITCH IN A NEMATIC LIQUID CRYSTAL OF ACHIRAL MOLECULAR DIMERS," D. Chen, J.H. Porada, J.B. Hooper, A. Klittnick, Y.Q. Shen, M.R. Tuchband, E. Korblova, D. Bedrov, D.M. Walba, M.A. Glaser, J.E. MacLennan, N.A. Clark, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, 15931-15936 (2013). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1314654110
  2. "HELICAL NANOFILAMENT PHASES," L.E. Hough, H.T. Jung, D. Krüerke, M.S. Heberling, M. Nakata, C.D. Jones, D. Chen, D.R. Link, J. Zasadzinski, G. Heppke, J. Rabe, W. Stocker, E. Körblova, D.M. Walba, J.E. MacLennan, M.A. Glaser, and N.A. Clark, Science325 (5359), 456-460 (2009). DOI: 10.1126/science.1170027
  3. "CHIRAL ISOTROPIC LIQUIDS FROM ACHIRAL MOLECULES," L.E. Hough, M. Spannuth, M. Nakata, D.A. Coleman, C.D. Jones, G. Dantlgraber, C. Tschierske, J. Watanabe, E. Körblova, D.M. Walba, J.E. MacLennan, M.A. Glaser, and N.A. Clark, Science 325(5359), 452-456 (2009). DOI: 10.1126/science.1170028
  4. "ATHERMAL PHOTOFLUIDIZATION OF GLASSES," G.J. Fang, J.E. MacLennan, Y. Yi, M.A. Glaser, M. Farrow, E. Körblova, D.M. Walba, T.E. FUrtak, and N.A. Clark, Nature Communications 4, 1521 [10 pages] (2013). DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2483
  5. "CHIRALITY-PRESERVING GROWTH OF HELICAL FILAMENTS IN THE B4 PHASE OF BENT-CORE LIQUID CRYSTALS," D. Chen, J.E. MacLennan, R. SHao, D.K. Yoon, H. Wang, E. Körblova, D.M. Walba, M.A. Glaser, and N.A. Clark, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 133 (32), 12656-12663 (2011). DOI: 10.1021/ja203522x