Cholesteric Liquid Crystal Shells as Enabling Material for Information-Rich Design and Architecture

Mathew Schwartz, Gabriele Lenzini, Yong Geng, Peter B. Rønne, Peter Y.A. Ryan, Jan P.F. Lagerwall

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


The responsive and dynamic character of liquid crystals (LCs), arising from their ability to self-organize into long-range ordered structures while maintaining fluidity, has given them a role as key enabling materials in the information technology that surrounds us today. Ongoing research hints at future LC-based technologies of entirely different types, for instance by taking advantage of the peculiar behavior of cholesteric liquid crystals (CLCs) subject to curvature. Spherical shells of CLC reflect light omnidirectionally with specific polarization and wavelength, tunable from the UV to the infrared (IR) range, with complex patterns arising when many of them are brought together. Here, these properties are analyzed and explained, and future application opportunities from an interdisciplinary standpoint are discussed. By incorporating arrangements of CLC shells in smart facades or vehicle coatings, or in objects of high value subject to counterfeiting, game-changing future uses might arise in fields spanning information security, design, and architecture. The focus here is on the challenges of a digitized and information-rich future society where humans increasingly rely on technology and share their space with autonomous vehicles, drones, and robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1707382
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number30
StatePublished - Jul 26 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • cholesteric liquid crystals with spherical topology
  • functional materials in architecture and design
  • infrastructure for autonomous vehicles
  • secure authentication


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