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Friedrich Reinitzer first observed liquid crystals in 1888.

Reinitzer 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 145C and turned clear at 179C.

Otto Lehmann coined the term "liquid crystal".

Lehmann 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 crystal."

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 ray tubes.

Before 1960 ~ After 1960

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