Washington, Oct 6 (ANI): Vanderbilt University scientists have created a new class of liquid crystals with unique electrical properties that could improve the performance of digital displays in everything from digital watches to flat panel televisions.
Professor of Chemistry Piotr Kaszynski and graduate student Bryan Ringstrand have described the feat in, which is the result of more than five years of effort, in two articles.
"We have created liquid crystals with an unprecedented electric dipole, more than twice that of existing liquid crystals," said Kaszynski.
Vanderbilt has applied for a patent on the new class of materials. Some of the companies that manufacture liquid crystals for commercial applications have expressed interest and are currently evaluating it.
"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," said Kaszynski.
If it passes commercial testing, the new class of liquid crystals will be added to the complex molecular mixtures that are used in liquid crystal displays.
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 liquid crystal displays and each requires a slightly different blend.
The newly discovered liquid crystals are not only important commercially but they are also important scientifically.
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 charged groups.
The newly developed liquid crystals contain a zwitterion made up of a negatively charged inorganic portion and a positively charged organic portion.
Kaszynski first got the idea of making zwitterionic liquid crystals nearly 17 years ago when he first arrived at Vanderbilt.
The achievement is described by in a pair of articles published online in the Journal of Materials Chemistry. (ANI)