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Liquid Crystal Banana Phase

Photomicrograph imaged between crossed polarizers of the liquid crystal banana phase named B1

A photomicrograph, imaged between crossed polarizers, of the liquid crystal banana phase named B1. The colors in this image are natural and result from a kind of constructive or destructive interference of polarized light waves. Some colors constructively interfere and our enhanced, while others destructively interfere and are diminished. The overall shape and color pattern of the microscopic liquid crystal domains when observed between crossed polarizers--termed the texture--are diagnostic of key aspects of the supermolecular structure of the phase. The B1 banana phase is a kind of columnar liquid crystal phase.

This photomicrograph was produced at the Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder, a National Science Foundation-supported Materials Research Science and Engineering Research Center (MRSEC), under grant DMR 02-13918. The center investigates the basic science and applications of liquid crystals, focusing on the unique class of ferroelectric liquid crystals. The center has spun off several companies and in this context, has driven the commercialization of liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) microdisplays. Such displays are currently found in camera viewfinders and rear-projection, high-definition television sets. Center scientists have also described the first example of spontaneous reflection symmetry breaking in a fluid, with the discovery that achiral, banana-shaped molecules form chiral liquid crystal phases. (Date of Image: April 2003)

Credit: Photomicrograph by Renfan Shao, Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center, University of Colorado at Boulder
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