Biaxial nematic liquid crystals

Project: Research project (funded)Research

Project Details


Biaxial Nematic Liquid Crystals:reducing symmetry to increase order and develop novel applications (this is the title)

Layman's description

The invention and development of liquid crystal materials in the 1970s and 80s led to the now hugely successful flat panel display industry, and allowed the development of all sorts of portable technology, including lap-top computers and mobile phones. The key to the success of these technologies has been the engineering of functional materials to enhance their application specifically to liquid crystal displays. The displays technology is mature, but there are now exciting, new developments in the area of liquid crystals that promise to have significant impact on future technologies. This proposal addresses one kind of new liquid crystal, the so-called biaxial nematic systems. The reduced symmetry that occurs in these systems results in many potential implications, and we are particularly interested in exploring their potential in new electro-optic applications (which may include switchable diffraction gratings - important for optical communications) and non-linear optics, since the materials are electrically switchable, and already have nonlinear coefficients comparable to useful solid-state systems.

The research that we are proposing here will make a significant contribution to these materials, which were only discovered a few years ago. We will attack some of the key issues that will allow biaxial nematics to be used, including developing new, lower temperature materials (current materials are biaxial at temperatures often around 150C) and understanding the nature of the biaxial order through complementary theoretical and experimental approaches. Thus we expect to be able to capture and control biaxial order in the applications already described, and deduce the best opportunities for using these new materials.

The programme brings together scientists from a number of disciplines, to enable several important issues to be examined simultaneously, and to allow each discipline area to feed into the other, for optimum synergy. The group has a strong record of working together to make advances in liquid crystals, which have already had impact on applications areas.

Key findings

Professor Helen Gleeson of Manchester University was the lead PI, and she holds the project findings
Effective start/end date1/12/0930/11/12


  • EPSRC: £313,601.00