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Zachary Schroeder, an undergraduate chemistry major at Wilfrid Laurier University, prepared this liquid crystal as part of his honors thesis research. The compound combines a polycyclic heteroaromatic core with flexible alkoxy chains. Schroeder will further transform the compound pictured in a multistep synthesis to try to produce an organic semiconductor. But for now, the lab he works in is interested in determining how a material’s molecular structure influences the range of temperatures in which the liquid crystals will form. Schroeder’s research adviser, Kenneth Maly, took this image through a polarized optical microscope as the material transitioned from the liquid-crystal phase to a liquid one. The vibrant hues are the result of polarized light refracting as it passes through the sample.
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