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Cellulosic fibres with liquid crystalline properties
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These images show cellulose formate fibres as seen in a polarized light microscope and the banded structures perpendicular to the axis of each fibre relate to ordering of the liquid crystalline structure. The highly viscous cellulosic polymer from which these fibres were spun exhibited birefringence and after storage for some time at low temperatures, iridescent colours similar to those seen in opal gems developed. These were due to slow ordering of the structure in which cholesteric (liquid crystalline) phases were formed. By controlling the spinning conditions and chemistry it is possible to preserve a memory of this highly ordered structure in the spun fibre. This yields a fibre of exceptional strength.