Optical fluid, adaptive lens, liquid crystal, display


Conventional solid-state photonic devices exhibit an ultra-high optical performance and durability, but minimal adaptability. Recently, optical fluid-based photonic and display devices are emerging. By dynamically manipulating the optical interface formed by liquids, the optical output can be reconfigured or adaptively tuned in real time. Such devices exhibit some unique characteristics that are not achievable in conventional solid-state photonic devices. Therefore, they open a gateway for new applications, such as image and signal processing, optical communication, sensing, and lab-on-a-chip, etc. Different operation principles of optical fluidbased photonic devices have been proposed, for instance fluidic pressure, electrochemistry, thermal effect, environmentally adaptive hydrogel, electro-wetting and dielectrophoresis. In this dissertation, several novel optical fluid-based photonic and display devices are demonstrated. Their working principles are described and electro-optic properties investigated. The first part involves photonic devices based on fluidic pressure. Here, we present a membrane-encapsulated liquid lens actuated by a photo-activated polymer. This approach paves a way to achieve non-mechanical driving and easy integration with other photonic devices. Next, we develop a mechanical-wetting lens for visible and short-wavelength infrared applications. Such a device concept can be extended to longer wavelength if proper liquids are employed. In the second part, we reveal some new photonic and display devices based on dielectrophoretic effects. We conceive a dielectric liquid microlens with well-shaped electrode for fixing the droplet position and lowering the operating voltage. To widen the dynamic range, we demonstrate an approach to enable focus tuning from negative to positive or vice versa in a single dielectric lens without any moving part. The possibility of fabricating microlens arrays iv with different aperture and density using a simple method is also proposed. Furthermore, the fundamental electro-optic characteristics of dielectric liquid droplets are studied from the aspects of operating voltage, frequency and droplet size. In addition to dielectric liquid lenses, we also demonstrate some new optical switches based on dielectrophoretic effect, e.g., optical switch based on voltage-stretchable liquid crystal droplet, variable aperture or position-shifting droplet. These devices work well in the visible and near infrared spectral ranges. We also extend this approach to display and show a polarizer-free and color filter-free display. Simple fabrication, low power consumption, polarization independence, relatively low operating voltage as well as reasonably fast switching time are their key features.


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Graduation Date





Wu, Shintson


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program









Release Date

December 2012

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Optics and Photonics, Optics and Photonics -- Dissertations, Academic