New Class of Liquid Crystal Could Redefine Digital Displays

Chemists at Vanderbilt University have created a new type of liquid crystal that could have implications for everything from digital watches to flat panel televisions.

The crystal has an electric dipole that is more than twice that of existing liquid crystals. Electric dipole in liquid crystals is associated with threshold voltage, the minimum voltage at which the liquid crystal functions.

Vanderbilt has applied for a patent on the newly created crystal class, and some manufacturers of liquid crystal for commercial use have taken notice.  If the crystals pass commercial testing, they will be added to the molecular mixes used in liquid crystal displays.

What distinguishes the new line of liquid crystals is a “zwitterionic” structure. Zwitterions are chemical compounds that have a total net electrical charge of zero, but contain both positively and negatively charged groups.