School of Physics and Astronomy

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Prof J Cliff Jones

Soft Matter Group

Contact details

Room: 9.74
Tel: +44 (0)113 3437311
Email: J.C.Jones @


Soft Matter
Liquid Crystal Materials and devices
Nano- and micro-particle suspensions
Surface interactions with soft-matter
Structured and photonic surfaces
Novel manufacturing
Adaptive Optics
Displays and Electronic Paper

Research interests

Nothing is more rewarding than having a novel idea, researching and discovering everything there is to know about it, and then applying that idea to something that is of use. I've been fortunate to do that a few times in my career, working with large corporations such as QinetiQ and Sharp, and also in a successful spinout company I founded, called ZBD Displays (now Displaydata). I've joined academia from industry to begin the process again, and explore some basic physics with the aim of creating new commercial innovations.

My main research interests are in the field of liquid crystals, the rich and diverse set of phases that can occur for anisotropic molecules or particles between the disordered fluid and fully ordered crystal solids. In particular, I am interested in the effects of confinement and polarity in liquid crystals. For example, the zenithal bistable device (ZBD) uses deep-nanoscale surface features to induce defects and flexo-electric polarisation in nematic liquid crystals to produce low voltage bistable liquid crystal displays and spatial light modulators. I am currently studying the effect of such photonic surfaces with other liquid crystal phases and colloidal systems, including Janus particles and other nano-particle suspensions, as part of an EPSRC Advanced Fellowship of Manufacturing.

My experience of taking invention from idea through to a successful product is currently being used in our group's work on switchable contact lenses. This project requires novel manufacturing methods, modulator design and integrated electronics to allow the lenses to switch whilst powered either wirelessly or with a tiny on-board charge source.

Areas abundant in new physics include novel phase structures in self-assembling materials, nano-replication methods and the interaction of soft matter with controllable surfaces, electro-wetting and electrophoretic phenomena, flexo- and ferro-electric switching effects. The array of novel fabrication and characterisation tools available to our group allows us to bridge the gap between fundamental science and innovative devices.