The 2nd International Workshop on Liquid Crystals for Photonics LCP2008 (www.LCP2008.org) was held at Wolfson College, Cambridge on the 21-23 July. The first Workshop was held in Belgium in 2006 and, based on the success of the first meeting, it was decided to continue providing a European forum for research in this area.
The organisation of the workshop was greatly facilitated by the cooperation of Wolfson College and financial sponsorship from the Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE) partners.
The topics of the workshop were wide ranging. Talks covered all aspects of Liquid Crystal Photonics from lasing, modelling, alignment, nonlinear optics, solitons, waveguides and photonic crystals, colloidal suspensions to devices and applications. A keynote lecture on "Liquid crystalline nonlinear optical meta-materials" was given by Prof. I C Khoo from Penn State University. Invited speakers included Professors R Sambles, P Palffy-Muhoray, T Sluckin, Yu. Reznikov, S Faetti, K Neyts, S Elston, A. D'Alessandro and Dr E. Yao. The talks generated interesting discussions. Two poster sessions with 36 poster presentations in each one, were very busy with lively discussions.
The diagram on the right illustrates collaborative work between the Universities of Durham and Cambridge, it shows long range forces acting on microscopic particles suspended in a nematic liquid crystal. The numbers indicate the particles and the tracks indicate their trajectories. The Photonics and Sensors group in the Electrical Engineering Division is exploring the applications of suspensions of nanoparticles in liquid crystals for Nonlinear Optics and Microwave devices; for example, in sensor protection and tuneable antennas. The elucidation of the forces at play in these suspensions is an important step along this path.
The social events promoted an increased awareness of the research infrastructure at Cambridge and networking possibilities. On the first evening the delegates were treated to a reception at the home of Electrical Engineering in West Cambridge. Professor Bill Crossland gave a general presentation about CAPE, supported by project presentations from young researchers. On the second evening, a workshop dinner held at Wolfson College was attended by over three quarters of the delegates.
Many people suggested that the next workshop in 2010 should be placed here again, and this is under serious consideration. This is perhaps the best measure of success of the venue and support in Cambridge.