STTR Phase I: Design, Fabrication and Characterization of Ferroelectric Nanoparticle Doped Liquid Crystal/Polymer Composites
This Small Business Technology Transfer Phase I project will address the critical need for low driving voltage, adaptive materials providing large phase retardation (for ultraviolet, visible, and infrared wavelengths) within a sub-millisecond time frame. Two technologically innovative tasks will be pursued in parallel and then merged, resulting in the creation of a new class of optical materials - ferroelectric nanoparticles doped liquid crystal/polymer composites. The first task will advance the development of a liquid crystal being immersed into a nano-structured sponge-like polymer network. This polymer network will be used for liquid crystal alignment as well as a means to decouple the cell gap with the response time of the liquid crystal material. The second task will involve mixing of ferroelectric nanoparticles with liquid crystal materials. The use of ferroelectrics will produce a uniquely exciting and largely unexplored system of composite materials that exhibit novel collective particle-host interactions. These interactions promise to bring benefits of a lower driving voltage and faster switching speed than in any liquid crystal devices available today. As a result, this high-risk effort we will demonstrate the power of nanotechnology to amplify by an order of magnitude the natural properties of liquid crystals.
The broader impact/commercial potential of this project will be tremendous, as the developed materials will have utility in a variety of commercial and military photonic devices including micro phase arrays, changeable focus lenses, and beam steering devices. The composite ferroelectric/liquid crystal materials will be critical to other emerging industries dealing with adaptive optical technologies, which has been an important segment of the US high-tech economy. In addition, the results of this project may provide revolutionary opportunities to already mature industries; for example, by reducing the driving voltage of liquid crystal displays via the use of ferroelectric nanoparticles and therefore allowing improved battery life for portable electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops.
Small Business Information at Submission:
Research Institution Information:
Meadowlark Optics Inc
5964 Iris Parkway Box 1000 Frederick, CO 80530
Number of Employees:
University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
1420, Austin Bluffs Parkway
Colorado Springs, CO 80918