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Picture of the Day

Poppin' polaroids

A polarizing microscope caught this psychedelic liquid crystal film as it spread over the surface of glycerine. These are the same kinds of liquid crystals in smartphones and television displays. While liquid crystals have transformed display technology, new knowledge about how these crystals order themselves in both space and time is making possible next-generation cameras free of mechanical zoom. The knowledge is also making possible a material made of spider-like polymers that generates electricity so you can power a smartphone through your shoe. Originally developed for mineralogy, polarized light microscopy is used to inspect liquid crystals and polymers. Filters called polarizers orient incoming light in a single direction. When this light hits liquid crystals, it can transmit key details about local crystal orientations.

Visit Website | Image credit: Oleg Lavrentovich/Liquid Crystal Institute, Kent State University