Liquid Crystals (LCs) at Various Wavelengths of Light

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Chemistry


Liquid crystals are found in every day devices such as flat panel displays. They were first introduced in watch displays, and the nematic materials which were invented in Hull provided the first suitable stable materials for practical applications. Thus the UK science base (Hull, BDH and RSRE) were behind the development of today's enormous display industry. Since the watch displays were commercialised in the 1970's, LCDs have grown bigger both in terms of physical size and market share. Chemical and Engineering News recently indicated the market would reach over 55m displays per annum by 2009, and now there are as many LCDs in the world as there are people. The new liquid crystal grouping at York has brought experts together with a view to exploiting the properties of liquid crystals, but at various wavelengths of light outside the visible range, for example in the ultra-violet, infra-red and terahertz ranges. Our objective is to develop liquid crystals that can operate in these ranges, so that prototype novel switches, light modulators and gates can be made. Such devices we believe will have applications in the fields of security, sensors, telecommunications etc.


10 25 50
Description A wide variety of novel materials with unusual physical properties were developed leading to new design concepts for soft matter materials. The applications of the materials were directed towards displays, sensors, biomedical engineering etc. We have also found from our initial studies on microphase segregation that we can prepare materials that are very soluble in organic solvents such as hexane, particularly dyes prepared in our recent EPSRC program on Nanoscale Engineering of Dyes. We are now looking at protecting the work via patents. The patent applications of the work have recently spread to a broader range of materials, including oliogomers, OLEDs, ferroelectrics etc, thereby creating a number of future opportunities for research in numerous different areas. In addition this has also lead to novel methods of material design that include computer simulations.
Exploitation Route Many of the design concepts for materials have underpinned future grants, and are being used by other across the world. Already we are talking to device manufacturers about liquid crystal projection devices that operate at 8K, twice the resolution of conventional TV, and manufacturers of switches for fibre optic communications that can operate at an order of magnitude faster than current nematic based technology. At the moment this work is confidential because it may involve spin-off developments.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics

Description Materials produced have been used by many other academic groups for their research, particularly in the areas of physics and device engineering. New areas have been developed based on the work of liquid crystals with bent structures, either bent core or bent dimers. The work from the platform grant has underpinned successive research and funding by EPSRC. The long term outcome is that we are now involved with patent applications, collaborations with large USA high tech companies, and new research that is underpinning the machining of materials at nano-macroscale interface. These achievements would not have been possible without the flexibility of the platform grant.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics
Impact Types Economic

Description DSTL
Amount £35,858 (GBP)
Organisation Defence Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2013 
End 09/2014
Description EPSRC
Amount £303,280 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/G023611/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2009 
End 06/2012
Description EPSRC
Amount £673,291 (GBP)
Funding ID R1372201 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2012 
End 02/2015
Description European Science Foundation
Amount £609,720 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/E064299/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2007 
End 03/2010
Description Halation Photonics Corporation
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID R1303101 (York Ref) 
Organisation Halation Photonics 
Sector Private
Country China
Start 05/2010 
End 03/2011
Description Royal Society of London
Amount £382,555 (GBP)
Funding ID DH090208 
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Description Silberline Ltd
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Funding ID Roooooo 
Organisation Silberline Ltd 
Sector Private
Country United Kingdom
Description Technology Partnership Plc (The)
Amount £178,833 (GBP)
Funding ID R1206501 (York Ref) 
Organisation Technology Partnership Plc 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 12/2008 
End 06/2010
Description Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship
Amount £30,000 (GBP)
Funding ID A0062101 (York Ref) 
Organisation Yorkshire Forward 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 05/2008 
End 05/2009
Description CAPE University of Cambridge 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Department Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics (CAPE)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Materials - dyes and liquid crystals - for test purposes
Collaborator Contribution Evaluation of materials in various devices and conditions
Impact Just started so no outcomes yet
Start Year 2016
Description Kingston Chemicals Ltd 
Organisation University of Hull
Department Kingston Chemicals
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Kingston Chemicals sometimes receives early view of information from us on materials that have have been synthesized by our research group.
Collaborator Contribution Kingston Chemicals is a small company which produces bornic acids and other intermediates for the synthesis of liquid crystals, at no cost to us. The company has provided us with reasonable quantities of desirable intermediates for our synthesis projects. Many of these materials are either too expensive to purchase or are not commercially available. Thus Kingston is a valued supplier for our synthetic programmes.
Impact A number of joint research articles have been published, and mixture formulations for ferroelectric liquid crystals have been developed which are sometimes used to support the research in academic physics laboratories in the UK and EU.
Start Year 2006
Description Liquid Crystalline Glycolipids 
Organisation National Institute of Applied Sciences of Lyon
Country France 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Analysis of the liquid crystalline and self-organizing properties of biologically related glycolipids
Collaborator Contribution Synthesis of novel materials of high purity for analysis
Impact 2 Book Chapters, 8 publications, award of Honorary Doctorate to Goodby
Start Year 2006
Description The Victoria University of Manchester 
Organisation University of Manchester
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Our collaborations with the Department of Physics of the University of Manchester (Professor Gleeson) started around 1990 and have lasted to today. Our work basically involved Hull and then York Universities, which have hosted the Liquid Crystals and Advanced Materials Research Group, and was directed towards synthesizing organic materials, low molar mass and polymers, which had practical uses in displays and sensors, or in fundamental or in modelling soft matter systems.
Collaborator Contribution Physical and engineering investigations of materials we have either designed together, materials we have invented, or literature materials of interest to Manchester.
Impact Our collaborations are multidisciplinary, and we have had shared grants, and published in excess of 40 papers together. Our most important success was in the fundamental investigations of the structures of ferrielectric liquid crystals by resonance X-ray diffraction.
Start Year 2006
Description The present invention relates to improved liquid crystal compounds which contain a mesogenic core which comprises a group of sub-formula (i) wherein R3 and R4 are independently selected from hydrogen, halogen or CF3, provided at least one of R3 or R4 is selected from halogen or CF3. The sub-formula (i) group may be located at any position within the mesogenic core of the liquid crystal compound, either at the terminus of the liquid crystal core or alternatively substantially in the middle of the liquid crystal core. The compounds of the invention provide compounds which when added to LC mixtures provide increasing birefringence, lowering of melting points, lowering clearing points, and lowering viscosities. These compounds and mixtures may find particular use in imaging or display media, such as monitors or televisions. 
IP Reference WO2010012994 
Protection Patent application published
Year Protection Granted 2010
Licensed Commercial In Confidence
Impact Synthesis of related materials for ferroelectric host liquid crystals
Description Public Lectures/Teaching 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We Have lectured/taught/entertained numerous public/educational events from schools to Christmas Lectures, to large scale public lectures, and from science to art, and all with demonstrations. we have done schools lectures from classes of 10 upwards, to cafe scientific for about 50, to large auditoriums for the public and Science Conferences for up to 250. We expect be doing city performances in the coming year, these will be major events for entertaining the public, and may be held in Museums and Council auditoriums, where we will also be using films and music in addition to our demonstrations etc.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2007,2009,2011,2012,2013,2015,2016