Objects that differ from their mirror images, such as the left and right hands, play an important role in physics at all length scales, from elementary particles to macroscopic systems. The handedness, or chirality, of the molecules constituting liquid crystals has a remarkable influence on the macroscopic physical properties of these systems, including the appearance of new phases. Indeed, the majority of optical applications of, liquid crystals is due to chiral structures, for example the thermochromic effect of cholesteric liquid crystals, the optical activity in twisted nematic liquid crystal displays, and the ferroelectric and antiferroelectric switching of smectic liquid crystals.
This book describes the main aspects of chirality in liquid crystals and points out some of the open questions of current research. The chapters, each by an expert in the field, review the highlights of the important topics and representative questions in the field of chiral liquid crystals. Two of the chapters provide an overview (including suggestions for classroom experiments) so that the book will be of interest to teachers and researchers just entering the field in addition to those already working in liquid-crystal research.