How and why had anyone come across this old page? It turns out that the person who contacted me had worked extensively with 4-(trans-4-pentylcyclohexyl)benzonitrile, also known as PCH5. Googling this compound's name brings up several of my old photos and the mortifying webpage. My favorite of the old photos is shown to the right. It captures the transition between the nematic and isotropic phases.
Every so often, I get an email from someone who wants to use one of my liquid crystal photographs for some purpose or another. Once, this was for a book cover; another time, it was for a presentation. Yesterday, I was asked for permission to use a liquid crystal picture for the cover of a Ph.D. thesis. Curious about which picture it was, I followed the link to a long defunct version of my SFU webpage. To put it mildly, this page had not aged well: to see it in all of its retro-glory, click here. Here's an important lesson: nothing ever disappears from the internet.
I have a soft spot for nematic phases, for a variety of reasons that I'll explore in later posts. One of these reasons is that nematic phases were the first kind of liquid crystal that I worked with as a grad student. So, for all of those researchers out there who worked with PCH5, here are a few more recent pictures.
Welcome to the LC Texture Blog. I started this blog with two main goals:
1) to showcase off the beauty of liquid crystals, and
2) provide a forum for discussing the art and science of liquid crystal optical microscopy.
Hopefully the aesthetics of liquid crystals will be self-explanatory. The second bit needs a bit of background. Polarized optical microscopy (or "POM") is the go-to technique for liquid crystal researchers. An expert practitioner can often infer the underlying molecular order of a liquid crystal by examining the characteristic optical patterns (or "textures") the material exhibits under a microscope. So for a liquid crystal researcher, these pictures aren't just pretty, but also provide crucial information. This is why we often refer to the optical microscopy of liquid crystals as textural analysis.
I am far from an expert at textural analysis. However, over the course of two decades of working with liquid crystals, I have managed to pick up some of the tricks of the trade. My goal is to pass on some of these tricks to newcomers to the field.
And if you're not a liquid crystal researcher, then just enjoy the pretty pictures. Like this one of a nematic liquid crystal: