The more widely studied features of the liquid crystals (LC) are those related to bulk properties: the actual applications of the LC are based on the interact ion of external fields with bulk properties inducing whole molecular reorientations. Usually it is considered that the surfaces of the cell containing the liquid crystal are important only to remove the degeneracy on the molecular spatial orientations: the surfaces deserve to give the initial orientation of the system. In these last years efforts have been made in order to better understand the role of the surfaces: the nature of the interactions of the LC with the m, and the possibility of create new electro-optical or optical effects driven by them. Theoretical and experimental studies were devoted to the basic problem s (braking of the symmetry, modification of the elastic constants, competition of different anchorings) and to new potentially interesting physical properties relating surfaces, molecular orientations and external fields as the ordoelectricity, the flexoelectricity and so on. Other researches have been addressed to the finding of new mechanisms involving such surface properties: for example t he surface induced bistability.
In parallel chemical research moved in order to prepare new suitable materials: as an example materials with high flexoelectric coefficients, appropriate ionicdopants and so on. New fields of technological research has been opened with the aim of obtain proper surface treatments: as an example vacuum evaporations under different conditions, photopolymer deposition, especially treated polymers for surface coating and so on. The main goal of the proposed network is to trust together the most important experiences in this new field: they are very dispersed at the moment but we should notice that they are almost all in Europe.
Therefore chemists, physicists (both theorists and experimentalists) and industries (both manufacturers and users) with some activity in the field of surface effects on the liquid crystal will be gathered in order to: - study from different point of view the surface bistability obtained from several methods, as well as other switching effects driven by the surfaces - produce the best materials to optimise such effects. The final goal of the project will be the design of a new kind of display and the participating industries will be pushed to transfer the scientific results to the actual productions or, better, to constitute a consortium for an industrial prototyping project.
WR14 3PS Malvern
75010 Pisticci Scalo