New Class of Liquid Crystals Could Lead to Sharper Displays
A film of the new liquid crystals developed at Vanderbily University.
CREDIT: Kaszynski lab, Vanderbilt University
Chemists have created a new class of liquid crystals with unique electrical properties that could improve the performance of digital displays found in everything from digital watches to flat-panel televisions.
The new crystals possess an electric dipole that should allow for faster switching between bright and dark states, thereby paving the way for sharper electronic displays.
"We have created liquid crystals with an unprecedented electric dipole, more than twice that of existing liquid crystals," said Piotr Kaszynski, a professor of chemistry at Vanderbilt University and an author on two papers appearing in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.
Electric dipoles are created in molecules by the separation of positive and negative charges. The stronger the charges and the greater the distance between them, the larger the electric dipole they produce.
Vanderbilt has applied for a patent on the new class of materials, and some companies that manufacture liquid crystals for commercial applications have expressed interest.
If it passes commercial testing, the new class of liquid crystals might well be added to the complex molecular mixtures that are used in liquid crystal displays (LCDs).
These blends combine different types of liquid crystals and other additives that are used to fine-tune their characteristics, including viscosity, temperature range, optical properties, electrical properties and chemical stability. There are dozens of different designs for LCDs and each requires a slightly different blend.
"Our liquid crystals have basic properties that make them suitable for practical applications, but they must be tested for durability, lifetime and similar characteristics before they can be used in commercial products," Kaszynski said.