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Utrecht and Oxford look inside banana liquid crystals

Jessica Vermeer
Leestijd: 1 minuut

A team of researchers from Utrecht University and Oxford University has developed a new system of micrometer-sized banana-shaped particles. With these bananas, they’ve experimentally confirmed the existence of the so-called “splay-bend nematic” liquid crystal phase, which was predicted forty years ago.

Liquid crystals have unique properties that make them easily respond to external stimuli such as electric fields. They’re therefore often used in TV and computer displays. Simple rod-like molecules can form just five liquid crystal phases, whereas the banana-shaped ones form over fifty.

The banana phases were discovered twenty years ago, initiating ‘banana mania’ in the field of liquid crystals. The researchers are the first to look inside these phases and directly visualize the way the banana particles pack or move. They expect their results to be a cornerstone for further development of liquid crystals.

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