TMU’s biomedical engineering researchers found Cholesteric Liquid Crystals ideal for optical device

Source: Office of Research and Development

Published on 2022-04-25

Associate Professor Yu-Cheng Hsiao at Taipei Medical University College of Biomedical Engineering has demonstrated new novel uses for liquid crystal elements which could have applications in the information and communication technology and healthcare fields.

Liquid crystal technology has been widely used in modern life in LCD screens for televisions, mobile phones, computer screens and monitors. Cholesteric liquid crystals have special optical properties, such as multiple optical states of transmission, reflection and scattering. They are considered by the scientific community as an ideal optical material for future development. The biggest obstacle to their usage in the past was the very high operating voltage, which made it difficult to achieve miniaturization and portability, diminishing the prospect of their usage in commercial applications.

Through the integration of synthetic nanometers into a new optical element, the cholesteric liquid crystals can be driven by simple mechanical energy, becoming the first portable and miniaturized cholesteric liquid crystal element that does not require an external power supply. This novel element can be used to improve the users’ information privacy and vision correction treatments.

In the past, it was easy for information to be stolen or shared unwillingly when using face recognition or fingerprints. In the new device, the optical state of the liquid crystal element can be driven by a simple finger press, and the information can be shielded confidentially.

Another application could be in the design of wearable technology for the improvement of the users’ vision. When walking, the glasses can store electrical energy to drive the liquid crystal element and block the strength of light information entering the retina. This can be adapted for the purpose of vision correction related treatments.

This is the first article that foresees an application for cholesteric liquid crystal elements in technology in the information privacy/security and eye healthcare fields. In the future, Dr. Hsiao’s team will continue to explore further hardware application designs, and strive to optimize performance and commercialize integrated liquid crystal devices.

The design structure of a nano self-powered liquid crystal element and its related application diagram (ACS Energy Letters 6.9 (2021): 3185-3194.)