Discovery of a New Class of Liquid Crystal Material

Discovery of a New Phototropic Liquid Crystal

AlphaMicron scientists working in conjunction with Air Force researchers have discovered and introduced a new class of liquid crystal material, now known as “phototropic liquid crystals“.

Liquid crystals are traditionally classified as thermotropic, lyotropic or polymeric, based on the stimulus that governs the organization and order of the molecular system. Typically, photoresponsive liquid crystalline materials experience a decrease in their order parameter and hence lower ordered states with exposure to activating light. The newly discovered Phototropic class of LC undergoes a surprising increase in order with light exposure. In other words, the material can be forced to undergo a phase transition from isotropic to nematic phase with light exposures.

This newly discovered material property was first reported in the journal NATURE: Light-induced liquid crystallinity, 17 May, 2012; Vol. 4 8 5, p. 347.

The discovery of this new class of material will have profound implications in optics, photonics, lasing and displays, as well as for applications in solar energy harvesting. This large, photoinduced dichroism exhibited by the new system has been long sought in ophthalmic applications such as photochromic and polarized variable transmission sunglasses.