Large grant awarded for photoresponsive liquid crystals – University of Copenhagen

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05 October 2012

Large grant awarded for photoresponsive liquid crystals

Professor Mogens B. Nielsen receives 4 ,4 million kroner for the project Photoresponsive Liquid Crystals (PhotoLC). The project aims to develop liquid crystals with properties that make them able to be controlled using light.

This takes place by way of photoactive molecules that can undergo electronic and geometric changes when illuminated. The changes result in changed colours within each molecule and also, throughout an entire phase. The geometric changes of each molecule will affect the entire liquid crystal phase morphology.

These types of smart materials could be used as sunscreens, optical displays, sensors or within data storage.

Dihdrazulen (DHA) consists of two connected rings. With the lighting of a particular wave-length, one of these rings opens, resulting in the formation of a so-called vinylheptafulven (VHF) molecule. This transformation results in a change of colour from yellow to red. VHF can convert back to DHA by using heat. With continued use of the DHA/VHF- system we hope that we will be able to achieve advanced photoresponsive liquid crystals.

These liquid crystals might also be used as heat activated sensors. Alternatively, one could mix the appropriate DHA/VHF connections with already known liquid crystals and investigate the effects. Synthesis and photo light studies will be conducted at UCPH, while the liquid crystal properties are researched in collaboration with Prof. Goodby in York, England.