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Proceedings Paper

A polarization-independent liquid crystal spatial light modulator
Author(s): Michael J. Escuti; W. Michael Jones
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Paper Abstract

We report our recent experimental results on a new polarization-independent, liquid crystal (LC) spatial light modulator (SLM). Based on a periodic nematic director profile, the modulator acts as a switchable diffraction grating with only 0th- and ±1st-orders at efficiencies of ≥ 99%, manifests contrast ratios ~600:1 (for laser light), switching times of ~2ms, and threshold voltages of < 1V/μm. Results of modulating broadband, unpolarized light from light-emitting-diodes (LEDs) indicates that contrast ratios are ~100:1 so far. Note that incoherent scattering for visible light is very low, and that samples are typically completely defect-free over large areas. An important feature of this diffractive polarization-independent SLM compared to its predecessors is its potential to achieve much larger diffraction angles, which enables a larger aperture (and etendue). In addition to describing the fabrication and characteristics of this SLM in general, we report on our initial progress in implementing a projection display system. All of the surprising and useful results from this grating arise from its continuous nematic director, which is most properly classed as a switchable polarization grating (PG). The SLM described here offers the inherent advantages polarization-independence at the pixel-level and fairly fast switching with nematic LCs, while maintaining similar switching voltages, cell thickness, contrast ratios, and materials.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 September 2006
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6332, Liquid Crystals X, 63320M (15 September 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.681213
Show Author Affiliations
Michael J. Escuti, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)
W. Michael Jones, North Carolina State Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6332:
Liquid Crystals X
Iam-Choon Khoo, Editor(s)

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