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New type of liquid crystal promises to improve performance of digital displays
Date:10/5/2010

r 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 liquid crystal displays and each requires a slightly different blend.

Scientific significance

The newly discovered liquid crystals are not only important commercially but they are also important scientifically.

Since 1888 when they were discovered, scientists have discovered more than 100,000 natural and synthetic compounds that have a liquid crystal state. They have determined that one of the prerequisites for such a state is that the molecule must be shaped like either a rod or a disc. A second requirement is that it must contain both rigid and flexible parts. It takes a delicate balance of two opposing factors or forces to produce a material halfway between a crystal and a liquid. However, there is still a great deal about this unusual state that scientists do not yet understand.

For example, scientists are still trying to determine the effect that a liquid crystal's electric dipole has on the temperature at which it becomes an ordinary liquid. The current consensus has been that increasing the strength of the dipole typically raises this transition temperature. The way in which the new type of liquid crystals are synthesized allowed Kaszynski and Ringstrand to test this theory by creating pairs of liquid crystals with the same geometry but different electric dipoles and measuring their transition temperatures. They found that subtle structural differences have a much greater effect on the transition temperature than do variations in the strength of the electric dipole.

Unique "zwitterionic" structure

What distinguishes the new class of liquid crystals is its "zwitterionic" structure. Zwitterions are chemical compounds that have a total net electrical charge of zero but contain positively and negatively ch
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Contact: David F. Salisbury
david.salisbury@vanderbilt.edu
615-343-6803
Vanderbilt University
Source:Eurekalert  

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