Current liquid crystal displays exploit the anisotropy, flexibility, and elasticity of the long-ranged molecular ordering of the nematic phase. Because of the intrinsic fluidity and the dielectric uniaxiality, the orientation of a nematic liquid crystal (NLC) within a pixel is readily controlled by an electric field. In turn, the direction of molecular alignment affects the polarization state of transmitted light, thus determining the on and the off state of each pixel. Upon removal of the field, the weak elasticity of nematics drives the pixel back to its off-state, which is a stable, unique, and well-defined state determined by the cell surface alignment. An alternative concept for display technology is the use of bistable or multistable materials, in which the electric field is needed to switch the system between two or more states that remain stable without the need for a continuous supply of energy.
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Materials Today (2011) 14(10), 488-494