Partnership aims for a new generation of optical instruments

A new partnership between leading science and technology company Merck and the University aims to expand the use of liquid crystals in optical innovations.

The five year collaboration will focus on the development of liquid crystals, commonly used in smartphones and TV screens, into non-display instruments such as switchable contact lenses and virtual-reality glasses.

As a global market leader for liquid crystals, Merck sees great future potential for their use in optical applications. The University has both the expertise and state-of-the-art facilities in order to conduct feasibility studies and develop prototypes of the devices and is building a reputation in particular for non-display applications.

This includes recent work in the School of Physics and Astronomy which combines liquid crystals and graphene to create switchable contact lenses, and liquid crystal elastomers for improved implants for the eye's intra-ocular lens. These approaches to restoring vision are just part of the range of novel applications being investigated by the Leeds team.

Professor Helen Gleeson, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Leeds, said: “The School is very excited about this partnership. Our ability to translate our fundamental research into world-leading applications and this important collaboration will uniquely place us to deliver completely new applications of liquid crystals.”

Read more about this story on the University's news page.