New Banana Phases

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Science  23 Jun 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5474, pp. 2146-2147
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5474.2146

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Liquid crystals-materials that flow like a fluid but are optically anisotropic like a crystal-exhibit large responses to modest external disturbances. In his Perspective, Lubensky discusses the advances reported in two papers in this issue, both of which involve liquid crystals made from V-shaped or bent-core molecules. Walba et al. report a synthetic strategy for producing a ferroelectric phase from achiral bent-core molecules. Pratibha et al. show that new liquid crystalline phases form when bent-core molecules are mixed with a particular class of rodlike molecules. These papers introduce new molecular designs that yield new liquid crystalline phases with controlled structure and properties.