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Professor Emeritus
Caudill Laboratories 161

Research Interest:
Elastic networks and sheared polymer melts, “RheoNMR,” and the discovery of a biaxial nematic, a phase with implications for fabricating ultra-high strength polymers


Professional Background

B.S., Clemson University, 1965 Ph.D., Princeton University, 1970

Research Synopsis

Samulski got his Ph.D. in chemistry from Princeton University, where he wrote the first dissertation in the field of polymeric liquid crystals. A fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Samulski was the founding editor of the premiere journal in his field, Liquid Crystals. He was recruited to UNC to create the Polymer and Materials Science Program, a program that was recently ranked among the top three in the nation, and was Chair of the Chemistry Department from 1995-2000.

In April 2004, Samulski found the “Holy Grail” of liquid crystal science, when he demonstrated the existence of a new state of fluid matter that has two degrees of orientational order, known as a biaxial nematic liquid crystal. This discovery ended a decades-long search for a liquid crystal in which the molecules could align not just in one but two directions thereby promising more responsive LCDs.

Subsequently he has focused on Liquidia’s Teflon-like polymer Fluorocur™. He is exploring the unique embossing capabilities of Fluorocur™ for manufacturing nanostructured substrates for high efficiency solar cells inspired by the light-trapping surface structure of butterfly wings.