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Furthermore, advances in polymer liquid crystals (PLCs) research will fuel applications ranging from personnel protection to their use in optical devices. For example, in the personnel protection arena, Douglas Gin of the University of Colorado, in collaboration with Brian Elliott at TDA Research Inc., has developed a new synthetic rubber material tailored with liquid crystals. They have designed the new composite material to be lightweight and breathable, while blocking the passage of toxic chemicals and reducing the risk of heat exhaustion in anyone wearing it. This material can protect military personnel, chemical-industry employees and others from exposure to toxic vapors and aerosols, as well as offer protection in the event of achemical-weapons attack.
Not withstanding such advances, there exist significant technology challenges that could hamper the progress. Compatibility with existing processes, large-scale synthesis of discotic liquid crystals, impurities, reflectance limit of cholesteric liquid crystals, switching speeds and reliability of the materials, and slow buildup times and dispersion of significant amounts of carbon nanotubes are some of the prime technology challenges that need attention.
"While there is ongoing research for overcoming the above-mentioned challenges, converting this research into commercially viable solutions will be critical," says Jayarajah. "In order to translate basic research into technology/product demonstration and scale it up for mass production, it is essential to have the entire path charted out."
As liquid crystal technologies continue to evolve, researchers need toensure their integration with the existing systems and minimize switch overcosts for manufacturers. Adoption of a new technology is considerably quicker when the costs involved are less.
Advances in Liquid Crystal Materials is part of the Technical Insights Subscription. It provides an overview of emerging trends in liquid crystal materials landscape, involving key drivers, challenges, restraints and analysis of adoption trends. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following technologies: new liquid crystal materials, study of defects, liquid crystal manufacture and search for new applications. Interviews with the press are available.