A method of controlling their self-assembly and three families of lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals with broad application

Case ID:

The most familiar liquid crystals (LC) are found in the electronic display of mobile devices and computers. LC’s are both a material and a state of matter.

This opportunity is protected by 4 issued patents. 3 patents protect 3 families of lyotropic chromonic liquid crystals (LCLC) which have their own individual characteristics and applications. The other ‘template’ patent is a method of manufacturing template based 3-D LCLC patterns in order create functional materials and devices.

LCLCs have characteristics including self-ordering, ease of alignment, sensitivity to changing conditions and additives, coupled with their optical properties and electro-optical properties, making possible a range of sophisticated devices. Patterned films of LCLCs have a wide variety of applications distinct from other types of liquid crystals, including inexpensive polarizing films, holographic displays, organic electronics, solar cells and precursors to structured graphene-based materials. When including the fact that they are water-based, a role in biosensors becomes apparent.

Technology Summary
The template patent describes a convenient and inexpensive method of controlling the self-assembly behavior of LCLC allowing manufacturing of patterned materials under ambient conditions with an aqueous solvent and a reusable template that does not require mechanical rubbing or stretching of the substrate or photoalignment of the LCLC. This approach improves upon traditional techniques of photoalignment or using uniaxially stretched polymer films.


  • Through the design of the molecular structure, properties of the anisotropic structures created by the template can be controlled at the molecular level.
  • The anisotropic structures are formed by the self-stacking of organic molecules limiting the minimum size of the patterns to the size of the molecular aggregates (down to nano-scale).
  • By using nonplanar templates and interwoven microchannels to guide the organization of the LC, 3-D patterns of anisotropic materials may be formed.

The LCLC’s protected by the 3 chemical compound patents have a huge range of applications ranging from use as a fluorescent biological marker through to a potential therapy for cancer.

Peer reviewed publications by the inventors explore applications as fluorescence probes of acid, temperature, solvent polarity and ratiometric analysis of double-stranded DNA. It is worth noting that LCLC's are water-based but non-surfactant and thus non-toxic. Also, one of the patented LCLC’s produced an oriented film that served as excellent linear polarizer of light with a dichroic ratio as high as 30.

Potential Applications
LCLC’s generally have a huge range of potential applications as you can see from the list below. The patents owned by UNR literally cover thousands of different LCLC’s.

  • Electronic displays - Organic light-emitting diodes (OLED), organic field-effect transistor (OFET), liquid crystal and flexible displays
  • n-semiconductors in organic electronics and photovoltaics (electron donor)
  • Optical materials - optical coatings, linear polarizers, optical compensators, retarders, alignment layers, color and dichroic filters
  • 3D Cinema and holographic display
  • Dichroic dyes and fluorescent dyes
  • IR transparent pigment for coating applications such as automotive coatings
  • Fluorescence probes of acid, temperature, solvent polarity and ratiometric analysis of double-stranded DNA

As near-infrared (NIR) absorbing and emitting dyes the patented compounds have potential applications in optical recording, thermally written displays, laser printers, laser filters, infrared photography, coatings, printing inks plastics, invisible security marking, fiber-optic communications and absorbers for heat management.


Available for non-exclusive or exclusive licensing and University of Nevada, Reno is seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in collaborative research to further develop, evaluate, or commercialize this technology.


IP Status
UNR ID# UNR03-02

Providing solutions containing selected concentrations of soluble orienting compounds in an isotropic phase or in a lyotropic liquid-crystalline phase, introducing solutions into template having at least one dimension that is micro- or nanoscaled, removing sufficient solvent to form anisotropic solid
U.S. Patent No.: 7,625,497


Materials and Methods for the Preparation of Anisotropically-Ordered Solids
U.S. Patent Nos.: 7,943,208 - 8,334,029 - 8,722,888


9-Piperazine substituted perylene-3,4-dicarboximide as a fluorescent probe in ratiometric analysis

Chromonic Liquid Crystals: Properties and Applications as Functional Materials

Template-Guided Organization of Chromonic Liquid Crystals into Micropatterned Anisotropic Organic Solids

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Shannon Sheehan
Manager, Technology Commercialization
University of Nevada, Reno
Travis Carson
Sean Casey
Isaac Iverson
Wonewoo Seo
SuK-Wah TaM-Chang