Friedrich Reinitzer first observed liquid crystals in 1888.
Scientists have known about liquid crystals since the end of
the 19th century. Austrian botanist Friedrich Reinitzer (1857-1927)
first noted the phenomenon in 1888. When he heated a solid organic
compound, cholesteryl benzoate, it appeared to have two distinct
melting points. It became a cloudy liquid at 145°C and
turned clear at 179°C.
Otto Lehmann coined the term "liquid crystal".
Otto Lehmann, a professor of physics in Germany, learned of
Reinitzer's experiment and continued the research. Using a microscope
fitted with a heating stage, he determined that some molecules
do not melt directly, but instead first pass through a phase in
which they have the ability to flow like a liquid while retaining
the molecular structure and optical properties of a solid crystal.
These properties led Lehmann in 1889 to coin the term "liquid
Practical uses for liquid crystals weren't developed until the 1960s.
Lehmann and Reinitzer were engaged in basic research, and neither
dreamed of an application for his findings. European laboratory
scientists came to understand the physics and chemistry of liquid
crystals during the 1930s, but it wasn't until the 1960s that
investigations began in the United States in both basic research
and practical uses for liquid crystals. Today
liquid crystal displays are among the
most popular forms of electronic information displays, second only to cathode
Before 1960 ~