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Proceedings Paper

Nematic liquid crystal interfaces for chemical and biological detection
Author(s): Darrin R. Most; Heidi J. VanTreeck; Bart A. Grinwald; Kurt A. Kupcho; Avijit Sen; Michael D. Bonds; Karla Anhalt; Barbara A. Israel; Bharat R. Acharya
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Paper Abstract

Nematic liquid crystals (NLCs) have traditionally been used in displays and other electro-optical applications where the orientation of NLC is manipulated by using an external electric field to display the information. In recent years, there have been significant advances in unconventional applications of NLCs in photonics, sensors, and diagnostics. In this paper, the application of NLCs for detection of vapor phase chemicals and biological entities is presented. When NLCs are in contact with another medium (solid, liquid or air) the delicate interplay between the properties of medium and NLCs determines the nature of the alignment assumed by NLCs at the interface. Interfaces functionalized with select chemical or biological entities promote alignment of NLCs in predetermined orientations (perpendicular or parallel to that interface) that are primarily dictated by local interactions at the interface. When these interfaces are exposed to target analytes, the interactions at the interfaces are perturbed and the NLC films undergo orientational transitions from perpendicular to parallel alignment, or vice versa. The orientational transition can be detected by viewing the film of NLCs between crossed polarizers (optical signal) or by measuring the differential capacitance associated with the change in alignment of NLCs (electrical signal). By engineering surfaces with different interfacial properties, sensors based on this principle have been demonstrated to selectively detect a wide variety of chemical and biological analytes that have relevance in industrial hygiene, environmental monitoring, homeland security, diagnostics, and biomedical applications.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 February 2011
PDF: 5 pages
Proc. SPIE 7955, Emerging Liquid Crystal Technologies VI, 79550L (2 February 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.881429
Show Author Affiliations
Darrin R. Most, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Heidi J. VanTreeck, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Bart A. Grinwald, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Kurt A. Kupcho, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Avijit Sen, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Michael D. Bonds, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Karla Anhalt, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Barbara A. Israel, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)
Bharat R. Acharya, Platypus Technologies LLC (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7955:
Emerging Liquid Crystal Technologies VI
Liang-Chy Chien; Hiroshi Yokoyama, Editor(s)

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