Exploring Materials: Liquid Crystals

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In this activity, learners discover that the way a material behaves on the macroscale is affected by its structure on the nanoscale. Learners investigate the properties of a heat sensitive liquid crystal and make their own liquid crystal sensor to take home. This is a fun and engaging activity, especially since liquid crystals are used in many consumer products, including cell phone displays, laptop computer screens, strip thermometers, and even "mood" rings! SAFETY: learners must be supervised when doing this activity. They must wear safety glasses to protect their eyes. Before doing this activity, read through the Material Safety Data Sheets.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
Over $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 4 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan

English, Spanish

Materials List (per group of students)


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Metallurgy and Materials Engineering
      • Nanotechnology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Heat and Thermodynamics
      • Heat and Temperature
      • Heat Transfer
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Bonding
    • States of Matter
      • Solids
      • Liquids
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities