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Top Russian science honour for York materials chemist

Posted on 28 January 2016

A University of York scientist whose research has made important contributions to the development of flat-screen displays for TVs, computers and mobile phones has been awarded the Russian Liquid Crystal Society’s highest award.

Professor John GoodbyProfessor John Goodby

The Society has awarded Professor John Goodby, FRS, of the Department of Chemistry at York, the 2016 Freederiksz Medal for “Outstanding Research in the Field of Chemistry of Liquid Crystals”.

Professor Goodby said: “I was very surprised to receive an Email ‘out-of-the-blue’ from the President of the Russian Liquid Crystal Society informing me of the award. I am deeply humbled and honoured to receive such a multidisciplinary award named after one of the greatest personalities in research into liquid crystals, particularly as we teach the ‘Freederiksz effect’  to our undergraduate and post-graduate students in York.

“Such awards, however, are not achieved singularly; I owe much to my current, and past, colleagues, researchers and students for their unstinting support and contributions.”

The Head of Chemistry at York, Professor Duncan Bruce, added: “I am delighted for John. This award from the Russian Liquid Crystal Society recognises John’s ground-breaking work in the area of liquid crystal chemistry over many years and cements his reputation as a true world leader in the field.”

Professor Goodby studied for his doctorate in liquid crystals at the University of Hull before moving in 1979 to the world renowned AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he became Supervisor of the Liquid Crystal Materials Group. After nearly ten years in the USA, he moved back to the UK to become the Thorn EMI-STC Reader in Industrial Chemistry at the University of Hull. After two years, he became Head of the Liquid Crystals and Advanced Organic Materials Group, and subsequently Head of the School of Chemistry.

He is now Chair of Materials Chemistry at the University of York where his research is focused on nano-structural engineering of materials through directed self-organization and self-assembly for applications in liquid crystal displays; polymers and dendrimers for photonics and metamaterials; and gels and biopolymers for use in biomedical applications.

In 2011 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and in 2013 he was awarded the Derek Birchall Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry for creativity and excellence in materials chemistry for Industry. In 2014, he won AkzoNobel’s UK Science Award for outstanding contributions in self-assembling and self-organizing materials.

Vsevolod Konstantinovich Freederiksz (1885-1944) was a founding member of liquid crystal research in Russia. Through the 1920-30s Freederiksz and his co-workers investigated many of the fundamental effects observed for nematic and smectic liquid crystals in the presence of electric and magnetic fields, such as molecular reorientation (now called the Freederiksz transition), electro-hydrodynamic instabilities, and dynamic scattering of light. Much of his work underpins modern display device technologies.

Other Freederiksz Medal winners include Martin Schadt, who invented the twisted nematic display (TNLCD), found in watch and computer displays, and Kyoto Laureate George Gray, CBE, FRS, the inventor of cyanobiphenyl liquid crystals, which nucleated the development of the modern flat-displays industry.

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