WARF: P00121US

Rubbed Substrates for Liquid Crystals


Nicholas Abbott, Seung-Ryeol Kim

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing simple and inexpensive rubbed substrates for liquid crystals.
OVERVIEWAlthough many techniques have been developed for detecting the presence of target species in biological samples, most conventional assay methods are expensive and require complex instrumentation and highly trained technicians, making them impractical for use in the field. Liquid crystal-based devices provide an alternative that is easier and allows the evaluation of samples in remote locations. However, liquid crystal devices may use gold films that are difficult to prepare.
THE INVENTIONUW-Madison researchers have developed rubbed substrates for liquid crystals. These substrates are easy to prepare. They uniformly align liquid crystals and resist non-specific adsorption of proteins and other contaminants.

The substrates include a blocking compound, such as bovine serum albumin (BSA), which is immobilized on one side of a support to form a biochemical blocking layer. A bifunctional spacer and a surface modifying compound may be used to bind the blocking compound to the surface of the support. An immunoglobulin, peptide, nucleic acid sequence or other agent that is capable of specifically recognizing the target species is also immobilized on the side of the support with the blocking layer. The surface on that side is then mechanically rubbed, so liquid crystals become uniformly anchored when contacted with the substrate.

To detect the presence of a target species, the substrate is incubated with the sample to be tested. Then the liquid crystal is added. Disruptions in the uniform anchoring of the liquid crystal indicate the presence of the target.
  • Detecting the presence of multiple target species in a sample
  • Creating an optical cell for use in a liquid crystal device
  • Can be rapidly and inexpensively prepared using simple equipment
  • Based on procedures used to manufacture alignment layers for liquid crystal-based displays
  • Resists non-specific adsorption of contaminants like proteins that can cause false positives
  • Various materials, including glass slides and silica wafers, may be used as supports.
Contact Information
For current licensing status, please contact Jennifer Gottwald at or 608-960-9854.
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