Previously unknown properties of liquid crystals have been discovered by IKBFU scientists. The findings make it possible to develop a new range of microminiature electro-optical sensors and a number of powerful medical devices for both laboratory and domestic use. The study was published in the Journal of Molecular Liquids.
Liquid crystal (LC) is a substance possessing both fluidity and crystal-like structure. LC systems are extremely sensitive to any external influences, including very slight electric and magnetic fields and minor changes in temperature.
One of the most important areas of research on LC structures is the study of transport and screening processes of nanoliter droplets in branching channels under the influence of an external electric field.
The new findings in the field are necessary for the development of responsive sensors and transducers. Compared to other microsensors, they will possess a simple design, a small size, high adaptability, and low control voltage.
IKBFU researchers conducted comprehensive modelling of fluid flow processes in micro- and nanoscale LC systems. The findings make it possible to properly predict a wide range of processes in LCs manufacturing and to choose optimal composition when designing various LC systems.
Pavel Maslennikov, Associate Professor at the Institute of Medicine and Life Sciences of IKBFU
Optical and other experimental techniques for studying LC structures are virtually impossible to implement today, so we focused on comprehensive computational modelling. We discovered and confirmed a number of previously unknown phenomena concerning the influence of the channel walls and other factors on the fluidity and related electro-optical properties of LCs.
The ability to instantly change the electro-optical characteristics of the same LC system makes these materials ideal for the development of new biomedical devices. These can range from portable household appliances for rapid analysis of cells, tissues and biofluids to powerful laboratory instruments.
Optical sensors on LC materials can completely remove the need for biochemical marker injections, since LC molecules amplify optical signals of biological structures. In the future, these sensors could be used to create multifunctional “labs-on-a-chip”.
In addition, research on LC materials is of great importance for the study of many biological systems, since, for example, cell membranes, phospholipids, cholesterol, DNA and a large number of other body structures exist in a liquid crystal phase.
In the future, the research team intends to continue studies of general structural patterns in micro- and nanolitre liquid crystals under the influence of electric field and laser-emitted light.