Liquid Crystals an Applications


Concerning the formative aspect this curricular unit aims to provide the students with scientific and technological knowledge on new mesomorphic materials. The students will also be acquainted with new concepts in various branches of knowledge (elasticity, fluid mechanics, crystal defects, phase transitions, and others) and will develop their reasoning ability on an interdisciplinary basis and their skills to create scientific and technological innovation. In the informational aspect the UC aims to acquaint the students with different applications of liquid crystals and the latest technological developments, and future prospects in this field of materials science.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Helena Figueiredo Godinho


Weekly - 5

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Not applicable


A.F. Martins, Os Cristais Líquidos, Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Colóquio "Ciências", 7, 253, 1991.

P.J. Collings and M. Hird, Introduction to Liquid Crystals, Taylor & Francis, 1997.

P.G. de Gennes and J. Prost, The Physics of Liquid Crystals, Osford University Press (UK), 2nd, 1993.

P. Oswald, P. Pieranski, Nematic and Cholesteric Liquid Crystals: Concepts and Physical Properties illustrated by Experiments (Liquid Crystals Book Series), Taylor & Francis, 2005.

Teaching method

Two types of lessons will be considered: Lectures (theory and practice) and laboratory. The lectures (theory and practice) will be given using the black board and powerpoint presentations. The students have access to copies of the presentations on the curricular unit page on CLIP homepage. Different case studies based on scientific articles will also be analyzed in the lectures.

The laboratory work will be performed by the students under the guidance of the teacher and will focus on the different chemical-physics aspects of liquid crystals.

Frequency in the curriular unit: obtained for conducting the laboratory works, pratical tests and presentation of one of the laboratory work performed.

Assessment: completion of two tests or a final exam.

The final grade obtained is 60% of theoretical note (tests average or final exam classification) and 40% of the pratical grade (frequency note)  

Evaluation method

Two tests or final exam.

The final grade obtained corresponds to 60% of the theoretical grade (exam or average of the tests) and 40% of the practical grade (frequency grade).

Subject matter

1. Introduction. Technological and biological relevance of liquid crystals (LC) and liquid-crystalline polymers.

2. Classification, molecular organization and optical properties. Degree of order. Textures and defects of orientation (disclinations).

3. Elasticity of curvature. Free energy of deformation. Equilibrium equations.

4. Molecular orientation at the solid-nematic interface. Effects of the surface roughness.

5. Introduction to nematodynamics. Director’s response to applied fields.

6. Electro-optical effects in nematics. Alphanumeric displays and liquid crystal display (LCD). Flexible displays. Digital paper.

7. Polymer-liquid crystal composites (PDLC, PSLC). Controlled transparency windows.

8. Applications of liquid-crystalline polymers in structural materials. Other technological applications of liquid crystals and liquid-crystalline polymers.



Programs where the course is taught: