Congrats to Catherine and Anshul, whose paper on non-electronic toluene vapor sensing using electrospun PVP fibers filled with nematic 5CB liquid crystal is now available (Open Access) from the Liquid Crystals website. In the article they demonstrate that there are two types of response to toluene vapor exposure, one slow and one fast. The slow one corresponds to a toluene diffusion-induced clearing transition, whereas the fast one is connected to a change in liquid crystal director field configuration, but the 5CB remains in the nematic phase. This fast response is seen across the mat within a fraction of a second, even several centimeters away from the exposure point, indicating that the detection threshold is very low. They also show that the responses of uniformly cylindrical fibers and beaded fibers are quite different, the latter allowing detection by the naked eye, without polarizers. Download the paper (no subscription needed) here.