Rolfe G. Petschek

Emeritus Professor of Physics


Statistical Mechanics, Condensed Matter Theory, Optical Materials


I am interested in complex fluids – large organic molecules or colloids which are disordered (glassy or liquid) or partially ordered (liquid crystalline). These materials present interesting problems in statistical physics, quantum physics, and optics. Many such materials are or have good prospects for becoming, important in displays, optical computing, and other optical and optoelectronic devices.  Interesting and applicable properties are determined partly by the statistical mechanics that results in appropriate self-assembly and partly by the underlying optical and electrical properties of the molecules and/or colloids. My work is simultaneously applied and basic, with impact on electro-optic and optical technologies, and on the tools with which physicists study the world.

Publications (of about 120 papers and 4 patents)

  • Ferroelectric Nematic Liquid Crystals: Realizability and Molecular Constraints,” P. Palffy-Muhoray, .A. Lee, and R.G. Petschek, Phys. Rev. Lett. 2303 (1988)
  • Modulated Phases in Thin Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Films,”A. Hinshaw Jr., R.G. Petschek, and R.A. Pelcovits, Phys. Rev. Lett. 60, 1864 (1988)
  • “Critical Behavior of a Frustrated Ising Model,” 0. Heinonen and R.G. Pelschek, Phys. Rev. B 40 9052 (1989)
  • Anomalous Dipolar Flexoelectric Effect in a Nematic Main Chain Polymer,” E. Terentjev and R.G. Petschek Phys. Rev. A 45 5775 (1992)
  • Maximizing the Hyperpolarizability Poorly Determines the Potential” Atherton, Timothy J., Lesnefsky, Joseph E*., Wiggers, George F. and Petschek, Rolfe G. J. Opt. Soc. B 29, 513-520 (2012)
  •  “Control of multiphoton excited emission and phase retardation in Kleinman-disallowed hyper-Rayleigh scattering measurements.”    Wu, Yeheng; Mao, Guilin; Li, Haowen; Petschek, Rolfe G.; Singer, Kenneth D.   Journal of the Optical Society of America B: Optical Physics  25(4),  495-503 (2008)
  • “Disordered, quasicrystalline and crystalline phases of densely packed tetrahedraHaji-Akbari AEngel MKeys ASZheng XPetschek RGPalffy-Muhoray PGlotzer SC. Nature. 2009 Dec 10;462(7274):773-7. doi: 10.1038/nature08641 (2009)
  • Spontaneous liquid crystal and ferromagnetic ordering of colloidal magnetic nanoplates” Shuai, A. Klittnick, Y. Shen, G. P. Smith, M. R. Tuchband, C. Zhu, R. G. Petschek, A. Mertelj, D. Lisjak, M. Čopič, J. E. Maclennan, M. A. Glaser & N. A. Clark,: Nature Communications 7, Article number: 10394 doi:10.1038/ncomms10394 (2016)