Thermochromic Liquid Crystals (LCs) can be highly temperature sensitive, change to many colors, and are more expensive than leuco dyes. LCs start black below their temperature range, go through the colors of a rainbow, and back to black again above the temperature range. LCs are reversible in that they can be used over and over again. The picture shows an example of a liquid crystal sheet in response to warming.
Popular liquid crystal applications include medical devices, forehead, aquarium and room thermometers, promotional pieces and advertising applications. Additionally, functional devices such as propane tank gas level indicator are achieving much notoriety. Liquid crystal thermometer strips are being used for thermal mapping and other industrial applications where custom inexpensive temperature monitoring is warranted. We offer a wide range of liquid crystal thermometers as stock products, but also offer literally thousands of custom products for your label.
LCs are very similar to the liquid crystal displays used in watches and laptop computers, but our thermochromic LCs change color with temperature instead of voltage. LCs can be formulated to change temperature from -22 to +248ºF (-30 to 120ºC), and can be sensitive enough to detect changes as small as 0.2ºF. If kept out of UV light and away from high temperatures and strong solvents, LC products will last for years.
The most prevalent use of liquid crystal is as a self adhesive reversible temperature indicator label that continually monitors temperature offering a visual readout that ranges from traditional numeric displays to custom graphics that can serve as an alert or warning.
What They Are:
These self-adhesive labels consist of a series of temperature-sensitive elements containing Microencapsulated Thermochromic Liquid Crystal (TLC) coated on a black backing. Each element changes color distinctly as its rated temperature is reached, passing through the colors of the spectrum in sequence from tan to green to blue before turning black at a higher temperature). The TLC strips are calibrated so that the indicator that shows green indicates the actual temperature. The color changes are reversible and the reflected colors will be observed in the reverse order upon cooling.
How the labels work:
The temperature-sensitive elements contain TLC molecules that are very sensitive to temperature and change position / twist in relation to changes in temperature. This change in molecular structure affects the wavelengths of light that are absorbed and reflected by the liquid crystals, resulting in an apparent change in the color of each temperature event.
When the rated temperature of an indicator is reached the TLC molecules twist slightly causing the TLC substance to absorb the red and blue portions of the visible light and reflect the green part. This causes the temperature event to appear green. When the temperature decreases, the molecules begin to twist in the opposite direction, and the TLC reflect a different portion of the spectrum.