Scientists told how to use liquid crystals to perform calculations. The results of the study are published in the journal Science Advances.

Researchers from the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago conducted a new study. They demonstrated for the first time how to design the basic elements needed for logic operations using liquid crystals. As the authors of the study note, this will pave the way for an entirely new way of performing calculations.

At the same time, scientists said that liquid crystal elements are unlikely to immediately become transistors or computers. However, the method itself suggests how to develop devices with new functions in sensors, computing and robotics.

During the study, scientists found that the liquid crystal can perform operations similar to a computer. To do this, it is necessary to direct energy into it, activating only certain areas with light. As a result, scientists used changes in crystals to move objects in certain directions.

“We showed you how to build the basic building blocks of a circuit—gates, amplifiers, and conductors. This means that in the future it is possible to assemble them into devices that will be able to perform more complex operations,” said Juan de Pablo, senior researcher at the Argonne National Laboratory and corresponding author of the article. “This is really an exciting step in the field of active materials.”

Recall that liquid crystals are a phase state into which certain substances pass under certain conditions. They have the properties of both liquids and crystals at the same time.