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Proceedings Paper

Photo-aligned liquid crystal devices for high-peak-power laser applications
Author(s): K. L. Marshall; C. Dorrer; M. Vargas; A. Gnolek; M. Statt; S.-H. Chen
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Paper Abstract

Liquid crystal (LC) optical elements have proven themselves as robust and cost-effective components for high-peakpowerlaser systems such as the 60-beam, 40-TW OMEGA Nd:glass laser system at the University of Rochester’sLaboratory for Laser Energetics. Although buffed nylon 6/6 alignment layers are the de facto standard for high-peak-power applications, photoalignment coatings based on coumarin materials have demonstrated exceptionally high near-IR laser-damage resistance. Using conventional photolithographic patterning techniques, high-resolution, photoaligned, nematic LC beam-shaper devices with a contrast ratio of 430:1, a pixel size of 10 μm, an interpixel resolution of 1.7 μm, and laser-damage resistance of 30 J/cm2 (1054-nm, 1-ns pulse) have been demonstrated. Recently, we have extended this photoalignment process to other existing and potential high-peak-power LC optical devices that have previously used buffed alignment coatings. In addition to fabricating photoaligned LC wave-plate prototypes that meet all optical and performance specifications of LC devices currently used on OMEGA, novel LC polarization converters with continuously varying radial or azimuthal polarization states have been fabricated using the same high-damage-threshold materials. These polarization converters have applications not only in high-peak-power lasers but also in microscopy, electron acceleration, and machining.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 October 2012
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 8475, Liquid Crystals XVI, 84750U (15 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.929918
Show Author Affiliations
K. L. Marshall, Univ. of Rochester (United States)
C. Dorrer, Univ. of Rochester (United States)
M. Vargas, Univ. of Rochester (United States)
A. Gnolek, Univ. of Rochester (United States)
M. Statt, Univ. of Rochester (United States)
S.-H. Chen, Univ. of Rochester (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8475:
Liquid Crystals XVI
Iam Choon Khoo, Editor(s)

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