Date of Award

Spring 2005

Document Type

Restricted Thesis

Terms of Use

© 2005 Dina Aronzon. All rights reserved. Access to this work is restricted to users within the Swarthmore College network and may only be used for non-commercial, educational, and research purposes. Sharing with users outside of the Swarthmore College network is expressly prohibited. For all other uses, including reproduction and distribution, please contact the copyright holder.

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Physics & Astronomy Department

First Advisor

Peter J. Collings


Liquid crystals have been an important part of the technological revolution of the past 20 years. Studies that examine liquid crystals with unique properties, such as the photosensitivity of ZhK 440, can help initiate the development of new technologies in industries such as display manufacturing and nanotechnology. The purpose of this study was to determine the basic physical properties of ZhK 440 and more thoroughly describe its photosensitivity. This nematic liquid crystal is being studied not only because it can potentially be useful in industry, but also because a systematic investigation into the isomerization properties of azoxy liquid crystals has never been made. Optical properties, such as birefringence and the indices of refraction, were measured. The extent of cis-trans isomerization upon excitation with UV and visible light were examined both in solution and in the liquid crystal phase. Order parameter values as a function of temperature and the latent heat of transition were also determined. Finally, an estimated spectrum of the cis isomer was produced. The data suggest that this system is easily manipulable with light, and holds promise for future technological applications.