An Introduction to Liquid Crystals

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Practically every display technology in use today relies on the flat, energy-efficient construction made possible by liquid crystals. These displays provide visually-crisp, vibrantly-colored images that a short time ago were thought only possible in science fiction. Liquid crystals are known mainly for their use in display technologies, but they also provide many diverse and useful applications: adaptive optics, electro-optical devices, films, lasers, photovoltaics, privacy windows, skin cleansers and soaps, and thermometers. The striking images of liquid crystals changing color under polarized lighting conditions are even on display in many museums and art galleries—true examples of 'science meeting art'. Although liquid crystals provide us with visually stunning displays, fascinating applications, and are a rich and fruitful source of interdisciplinary research, their full potential may yet remain untapped.