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Physics, Swarthmore College and University of Pennsylvania
“Liquid Crystals: Can’t Live With Them, Can’t Live Without Them!”
In addition to the solid, liquid, and gas states of matter, some substances form a fourth state of matter between the solid and liquid states. This “liquid crystal” state of matter is fluid like a liquid, but possesses structure like a solid. The combination of fluidity and order is what allows high-resolution, low power-consuming LCD displays to be fabricated. The quality and prevalence of devices that rely on an LCD display have literally changed the way people go about their lives, making everyone wonder at times if living with them is not entirely a change for the better. In addition, the combination of fluidity and order is what allows many biological structures to function properly, including cell membranes, chromosomes, micro-filaments, and muscles. Thus we are alive because life has taken advantage of the properties of liquid crystals.