Having spent my MChem and PhD in the Hull liquid crystal group I could not help but develop a passion for liquid crystal textures. During my time in the group I had much guidance from experts such as John Goodby, Isabel Saez, Georg Mehl, Mike Hird, Robert Lewis and David Lacey. Textures obtained from polarized optical microscopy of some of the most mundane white powders and colourless oils provide some of the most strikingly beautiful shapes and patterns I have ever encountered.
Some of these striking images have been recognized for their artistic value by Prof John Goodby and many of his creations are available on his website www.liquidcrystalart.com
These textures arise from the phenomena known as birefringence. Liquid crystalline materials by nature have inherent anisotropy of properties. In the case of birefringence it is the differing refractive indices of the ordinary (fast) and extraordinary (slow) component of light. Passing plane polarized light through a sample and through a second polarizer (analyzer) at 90 degrees to the first produces a wide variety of patterns characteristic of the organization of molecules into 2D lattices. A greater depth of information on this phenomena is available in the liquid crystal virtual textbook on the website of the Polymers and Liquid Crystals Lab at Case Western Reserve University.
Below I will include a selection of images I have collected of various compounds I have observed by optical polarizing microscopy.