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Proceedings Paper

Thin film/liquid crystal composite optical materials
Author(s): Jeremy C. Sit; Michael J. Brett
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Paper Abstract

The classic challenge faced by researchers dealing with liquid crystals is to control the LC molecular orientation and hence optimise the optical properties. Well known techniques for influencing LC texture include the use of surfactants or thin film alignment layers. The underlying limitation common to such techniques is that while excellent control of LC anchoring at the substrate surface is achieved, molecular alignment in the bulk of the LC is reliant entirely upon the cooperative effects and resulting elastic properties of the LC material. Generally, this has worked sufficiently well in practice, but unfortunately, the complete dependence on the intermolecular forces of the LC means that unencumbered, reversible switching is not always possible. Our group has taken a unique approach to influence LC orientation. Using glancing angle deposition (GLAD), highly porous thin films can be grown possessing isolated columnar microstructure whose shape can be tailored via substrate motion during film deposition. In particular, we can grow films of helical columns with controlled pitch and handedness. These films exhibit circular dichroism and optical activity similar to that seen in chiral LCs. The high porosity of GLAD films permits fluids such as LCs to be introduced into the pores, leading to a new type of hybrid optical material. Most significantly, initial work showed that when achiral LCs were embedded in chiral GLAD media, there was an enhancement of the circular dichroism and optical activity as the chiral GLAD film served to induce a chiral orientation in the LC. In this report, we start with a brief overview of the GLAD process and some relevant optical studies, leading to a review of GLAD/LC hybrid materials, switchable devices, and finally, a discussion of recent research optical characterisation and some ideas for future avenues of investigation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 January 2004
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 5213, Liquid Crystals VII, (5 January 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.508657
Show Author Affiliations
Jeremy C. Sit, Univ. of Alberta (Canada)
Michael J. Brett, Univ. of Alberta (Canada)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5213:
Liquid Crystals VII
Iam-Choon Khoo, Editor(s)

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