, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 413-419
Date: 07 Dec 2004

Polymer-stabilized cholesteric liquid crystals as switchable photonic broad bandgaps

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A cholesteric liquid crystal can be considered as a one-dimensional photonic crystal with a refractive index that is regularly modulated along the helix axis because of the particular arrangement of the molecules. The result is that the propagation of light is suppressed for a particular range of wavelengths (bandgap). A polymer-stabilized cholesteric liquid crystal (PSCLC), which is obtained by in situ photopolymerization of reactive liquid-crystal molecules in the presence of non-reactive liquid-crystal molecules in an oriented Bragg planar texture, is elaborated by combining the UV-curing with a thermally induced pitch variation. As a consequence, it is shown here that memory effects are introduced into the characteristics of the reflection band of the material at room temperature. In the visible spectrum, the reflection bandwidth can be tuned in agreement with the thermal ramp and broadened. In addition, the bandgap filters can be switched between broadband reflective, scattering and transparent states by subjecting them to an electric field. Related application fields of these functional materials are switchable smart windows for the control of the solar-light spectrum and white-or-black polarizer-free reflective displays.