Apr 29, 2020
Professor Thomas Mason
Professors Kun Zhao (Tianjin U) and Tom Mason (UCLA) discover tetratic order in dense 2D systems of rotationally asymmetric hard kite particles.
A former postdoctoral researcher in Professor Tom Mason’s UCLA lab, Professor Kun Zhao (pictured right) of Tianjin University China’s School of Chemical Engineering and Technology has led a collaborative research effort, launched initially with Mason, that has identified a surprising emergence of (quasi-)long-range tetratic (four-fold rotational) order in dense 2D systems of Brownian kites that have hard interactions. 
While tetratic order has already been identified in dense 2D Brownian systems of other shapes (e.g. squares and rectangles), what is surprising in this new simulation work is that tetratic order emerges in systems of certain kite shapes that lack four-fold and two-fold rotational symmetry of shapes in prior studies. This discovery opens up the possibility of finding tetratic order in dense 2D Brownian systems composed of particles having a much greater range of shapes than was previously thought.
The research has just been published online in Nature Communications on April 28, 2020, in a paper titled “Emergent Tetratic Order in Crowded Systems of Rotationally Asymmetric Hard Kite Particles”. The editors at Nature Communications have put together an Editors’ Highlights webpage of recent research on Inorganic, Nanoscale and Physical Chemistry and editor Ariane Vartanian has chosen to feature the team's article.   
"We are very happy that productive international scientific collaborations like ours can have a positive and beneficial impact on science even amid the current global health crisis,” Mason said.
Their collaborators, who performed the simulations and analyzed the results, were Zhanglin Hou and Yiwu Zong of Tianjin University, and Zhaoyan Sun and Fangfu Ye who are both affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 
Mason is a professor of physical and materials chemistry and soft matter physics at UCLA and leads an interdisciplinary research group that focuses on self-assembly, nanoemulsions, and microrheology.
For more information about Mason’s research visit his homepage.