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Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center

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Soft Materials Research Center  (University of Colorado at Boulder)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Liquid Crystal Materials Research Center (LC MRC) at the University of Colorado is a Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). MRSECs support interdisciplinary materials research and education of the highest quality while addressing fundamental problems in science and engineering that are important to society.

The LC MRC has developed into one of the principal centers of liquid crystal study and expertise in the United States, its research spanning the range from cutting-edge, basic LC science to the development of materials and devices with enhanced capabilities for electro-optic, nonlinear optic, and other novel applications. The Center is a unique venue worldwide for research on polar and/or chiral condensed phases, and for engaging the exciting basic science and application opportunities that they offer. By virtue of their attractive characteristics for electro-optic applications, ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) are poised for wide commercial applications, and the LC MRC has aggressively pursued its role as the principal American resource for FLC industrial development, doing collaborative research with a variety of companies.

Education & Outreach

The LC MRC carries its work to the public at a variety of levels. At the K-12 level, the Center's principal outreach activity is the Materials Science From CU Classroom Program (MSFCU) in which Center personnel design hands-on classes that teach physical science concepts using the current understanding of materials. Center faculty, staff, and students prototype these presentations in the classroom and train presenters who take the program statewide. MSFCU presentations have reached over 34,000 Colorado K-12 students over the past 5 years. In addition to MSFCU, the Center supports Materials Science From CU Traveling Kits, the Liquid Crystals Wizard Show, and a High School Honors Institute.

The Center also supports professional development opportunies for teachers, including lab tours, the Statewide Teacher Enhancement Program, and a Research Experience for teachers (RET) program that enables educators to translate summer laboratory work at the LC MRC into classroom curricula. Upper level undergraduate science students are also welcomed at the Center via the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program that enables participants to do cutting edge research and earn a stipend over the summer.

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  • Image from an NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).
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