Chirality, ferroelectricity and surface-induced frustration in patterned liquid crystal components for electro-optical applications

01 October 2022 → 30 September 2026
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Photonics, optoelectronics and optical communications
  • Engineering and technology
    • Photonics, light and lighting
    • Modelling not elsewhere classified
    • Functional materials
Photo-aligned liquid crystal structures Liquid crystal photonic components Surface-induced metastability
Project description

Liquid crystals are organic soft materials that can flow but also contain a certain degree of ordering. This remarkable combination of flexibility and ordering leads to extra-ordinary material properties. Liquid crystals are nowadays widely used in commercial flat panel displays but they are also useful for other photonic components. Liquid crystals have the advantage that they can self-organize into complex structures and that they can be strongly influenced by external factors such as an applied electric field, illumination or heating. This leads to components with properties that can be easily tuned. To develop new components and to optimize their functionality, it is essential to understand how the anchoring of the liquid crystal at the surfaces is related to the formation of complex structures in the bulk. In this work it is investigated how the combination of different liquid crystal materials with patterned surfaces gives rise to the formation of several complex superstructures. To modify the liquid crystal configurations and in this way tune the device properties, electric fields are applied and the effect of illumination or heating is tested. The structures are optimized so that they can effectively manipulate light and can be used in applications such as smart windows with adjustable transmission. Besides experimental work, also numerical simulations are performed to get insight in the liquid crystal behavior and to optimize the device characteristics.