The discovery of a cholesteric liquid crystalline phase in concentrated aqueous solutions of (hydroxypropyl) cellulose (HPC) dates back to the 1970s. Due to its biocompatibility, low cost and ease of conversion to fibres and films, HPC is still the target of numerous studies. In this article, some of the properties of the HPC/water lyotropic system are reviewed, and original results describing a humidity-generated instability on HPC fibres are presented. The use of HPC films which respond to external stimuli is highlighted. In particular, novel applications include the manufacture of soft motors driven by a difference of humidity, and the production of electro-optical cells when the solid films are used in conjunction with low molecular mass thermotropic mesogens.
- liquid crystal