1.Controlled tribology

Glass plates sliding when the static friction changes caused by dynamic surface topographies.

Release of a mimicked robotic grip when light is switched on.


Danqing Liu and Dirk J. Broer, Light controlled friction at a liquid crystal polymer coating with switchable patterning, Soft Matter 2014, 10, 7952-7958.

Danqing Liu and Dirk J. Broer, Self-assembled dynamic 3D fingerprints in liquid crystal coatings towards controllable friction and adhesion, Angewandte Chemie International Edition 2014, 53, 4542-4546

2.Self-cleaning under dry condition

We propose a self-cleaning coating that keep the surface clean without the aid of water. This ‘smart’ coating solves the problem of the solar farms placed in the desert and arid areas where the access to water is largely limited and suffer frequently from sand storms.

Our solution is to create a continuous surface waves that dynamically slide off the dust. It is based on the robust liquid crystal networks (LCNs) and operates under a low electric field. 


Wei Feng, Dirk J. Broer and Danqing Liu*, Oscillating chiral-nematic fingerprints wipe away dust, Advanced Materials 2018, 30, 1704970

Wei Feng

3.Haptics, human-machine interaction

We aim for the localized haptic feedback by introducing a (micro-)morphing surface which transfers between flat and a pre-set structured state. This will enhance people’s touch experience and channel the human-machine communication. 


Danqing Liu, Nicholas B. Tito, and Dirk J. Broer, Protruding organic surfaces triggered by in-plane electric fields, Nature Communications 2017, 8, 1526.


Danqing Liu, Dirk J. Broer, Liquid crystal device with surface liquid crystal polymer film electrically configurable as to surface shape and optical properties, European Patent application number WO 2018-EP53801, 2018.