Liquid crystals are a phase of matter critical both in many recent scientific developments in biology, chemistry, and physics and in applications such as computer displays, electronic books, and new thermometers. This fully illustrated book builds on basic scientific concepts from biology, chemistry, and physics to explore the full range of the broad and interdisciplinary field of liquid crystal science.After a brief introduction to liquid crystals, the text sketches the history of research into this phase of matter, beginning with its discovery. Interesting in its own right, this history also demonstrates the crucial role that technological applications play in promoting scientific research. The behavior of the various liquid crystalline phases is described in detail, with an emphasis on the electrical and optical properties so important for applications. Applications are then covered, with in-depth attention given to how liquid crystals are used in computer-screen displays. Chapters dealing with liquid crystalline phases formed in solutions, the liquid crystal phases of polymers, and the biological significance of liquid crystals explore the huge range of phenomena associated with liquid crystals--from new high-strength fibers to the frontiers of cell-membrane research. Finally, there is a chapter highlighting current theoretical knowledge about why liquid crystals exist and why they have the properties they do.In this second edition, many portions of the highly praised first edition have been thoroughly revised and expanded to incorporate the tremendous theoretical and applied research advances made over the last decade. The result is an up-to-date and comprehensive description of liquid crystal science and technology at the introductory level. Students and researchers in a variety of fields will find this book an ideal entry to a highly productive area of inquiry.