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Science and Technology

New type of liquid crystal is discovered at Kent State
Researchers at Kent State's Liquid Crystal Institute have discovered a new type of liquid crystal that twists and bends; how that may play out isn't yet known

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
A team led by Kent State Unversity's Oleg Lavrentovich discovered a new type of liquid crystal that twists and bends. The new materials could improve display technologies by allowing faster switching electro-optical devices.
Courtesy of Kent State Unversity
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A new class of liquid crystals has been discovered by researchers at Kent State University.

WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports the find opens new possibilities for liquid crystal technology.

LISTEN: New era in liquid crystal research

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Since their development in the 1970’s, liquid crystals have spread everywhere. They’re in the displays for your clock, computer, TV, and cell-phone.

But Kent State’s Oleg Lavrentovich says a new type of liquid crystal opens a new era of possibilities for the technology.

“Prior to this research, there were just a few types of liquid crystals that people knew almost everything about.  And suddenly you see a new structural organization that is different from everything that was known.”

Unlike the straight, rod-like “classic” liquid crystals, the new molecules bend in the middle.

Twist and bend
Lavrentovich says the new “twist-bend” molecules could allow for finer control of images.

“The new structure is much more complex than the structure of the standard liquid crystals used in displays and that means that you have more degrees of freedom to control this structure.”

Lavrentovich cautions that the new type of liquid crystal has just been discovered, and only time will tell how it will advance the technology.

But he says there’s already speculation that it could result in breakthroughs in biological sensors, chemical catalysts, and yes, better computer displays. 

The research was reported in the Nov. 5 issue of the journal Nature Communications.

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listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University