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Proceedings Paper

Liquid crystal devices for photonics applications
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Paper Abstract

Liquid crystal (LC) devices for Photonics applications is a hot topic of research. Such elements begin to appear in Photonics market. Passive elements for fiber optical communication systems (DWDM components) based on LC cells can successfully compete with the other elements used for the purpose, such as micro electromechanical (MEM), thermo-optical, opto-mechanical or acousto-optical devices. Application of nematic and ferroelectric LC for high speed communication systems, producing elements that are extremely fast, stable, durable, of low loss, operable over a wide temperature range, and that require small operating voltages and extremely low power consumption. The known LC applications in fiber optics enable to produce switches, filters, attenuators, equalizers, polarization controllers, phase emulators and other fiber optical components. Good robustness due to the absence of moving parts and compatibility with VLSI technology, excellent parameters in a large photonic wavelength range, whereas the complexity of the design and the cost of the device are equivalent to regular passive matrix LC displays makes LC fiber optical devices very attractive for mass production. We have already successfully fabricated certain prototypes of the optical switches based on ferroelectric and nematic LC materials. The electrooptical modes used for the purpose included the light polarization rotation, voltage controllable diffraction and fast switching of the LC refractive index. We used the powerful software to optimize the LC modulation characteristics. Use of photo-alignment technique pioneered by us makes it possible to develop new LC fiber components. Almost all the criteria of perfect LC alignment are met in case of azo-dye layers. We have already used azo-dye materials to align LC in superthin photonic holes, curved and 3D surfaces and as cladding layers in microring silicon based resonators. The prototypes of new LC efficient Photonics devices are envisaged. Controllable photonic crystal / liquid crystal (PC/LC) devices became a "hot" topic of research. New PC/LC passive elements of fiber optical systems: electrically tunable LC photonic fibers, fiber optics tunable LC filters, tunable photonic crystal lasers are envisaged. A method for the formation of controllable PC/LC structures, based on photo-aligned LC is considered. Filling of the interstices of the photonic crystal with the photo-aligned LC material and subjecting the LC to a varying electric field can produce a tunable photonic crystal element. We have already used the photoaligning materials to align LC mixtures in small cavities, such as the holes and tubes of photonic crystals, having size of 1 μm and less and obtained excellent LC orientation inside the tubes by photoalignment.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 November 2007
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 6781, Passive Components and Fiber-based Devices IV, 67811M (21 November 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.740138
Show Author Affiliations
Vladimir G. Chigrinov, Hong Kong Univ. of Science and Technology (Hong Kong China)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6781:
Passive Components and Fiber-based Devices IV
Ming-Jun Li; Jianping Chen; Satoki Kawanishi; Ian H. White, Editor(s)

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