Research led by scientists from the University of Luxembourg has shown the potential of liquid crystal shells as enabling material for a vast array of future applications, ranging from autonomous driving to anti-counterfeiting technology and a new class of sensors.
Liquid Crystals, already widely used in flat-screen TVs, are materials that are in a state between solid and liquid.
Prof Jan Lagerwall and his team at the Physics and Materials Science Research Unit (PHYMS) at the University of Luxembourg have been investigating the unique mechanical and optical properties of microscopic shells that are produced of liquid crystal for several years.
Now, in a multidisciplinary collaboration with IT scientists Dr. Gabriele Lenzini and Prof Peter Ryan of the University's Interdisciplinary Center for Security and Trust (SnT) as well as Mathew Schwartz, Assistant Professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, they published a report in the scientific journal Advanced Materials describing potentially groundbreaking future applications for the material.
Liquid Crystal shells, only fractions of a millimeter in size so they can easily be applied to surfaces, have several unique properties that could be utilized in engineering: As they reflect light highly selectively, they can be arranged into patterns that are readable for machines, akin to a QR code, adding coded information to objects.
This could become important especially in indoors applications where GPS devices don't work," Prof Lagerwall explains.