Blue phase, liquid crystal displays


From cell phones, laptops, desktops, TVs, to projectors, high reliability LCDs have become indispensable in our daily life. Tremendous progress in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) has been made after decades of extensive research and development in materials, device configurations and manufacturing technology. Nowadays, the most critical issue on viewing angle has been solved using multidomain structures and optical film compensation. Slow response time has been improved to 2-5 ms with low viscosity LC material, overdrive and undershoot voltage, and thin cell gap approach. Moving image blur has been significantly reduced by impulse driving and frame insertion. Contrast ratio in excess of one million-to-1 has been achieved through local dimming of the segmented LED backlight. The color gamut would exceed 100% of the NTSC (National Television System Committee), if RGB LEDs are used. Besides these technological advances, the cost has been reduced dramatically by investing in advanced manufacturing technologies. Polymer-stabilized blue phase liquid crystal displays (BPLCDs) based on Kerr effect is emerging as a potential next-generation display technology. In comparison to conventional nematic devices, the polymer-stabilized BPLCDs exhibit following attractive features: (1) submillisecond response time, (2) no need for molecular alignment layers, (3) optically isotropic dark state when sandwiched between crossed polarizers, and (4) transmittance is insensitive to cell gap when the in-plane electrodes are employed. However, aside from these great potentials, there are still some tough technical issues remain to be addressed. The major challenges are: 1) the operating voltage is still too high (~50 Volts vs. 5 Volts for conventional nematic LCDs), and the transmittance is relatively low (~65% iv vs. 85% for nematic LCDs), 2) the hysteresis effect and residual birefringence effect are still noticeable, 3) the mesogenic temperature range is still not wide enough for practical applications (40 oC to 80 oC), and 4) the ionic impurities in these polymer-stabilized nano-structured LC composites could degrade the voltage holding ratio, which causes image sticking. In this dissertation, the BPLC materials are studied and the new BPLC device structures are designed to optimize display performances. From material aspect, the electro-optical properties of blue phase liquid crystals are studied based on Kerr effect. Temperature effects on polymer-stabilized blue phase or optically isotropic liquid crystal displays are investigated through the measurement of voltage dependent transmittance under different temperatures. The physical models for the temperature dependency of Kerr constant, induced birefringence and response time in BPLCs are first proposed and experimentally validated. In addition, we have demonstrated a polymer-stabilized BPLC mixture with a large Kerr constant K~13.7 nm/V2 at 20 oC and =633 nm. These models would set useful guidelines for optimizing material performances. From devices side, the basic operation principle of blue phase LCD is introduced. A numerical model is developed to simulate the electro-optic properties of blue phase LCDs based on in-plane-switching (IPS) structure. Detailed electrode dimension effect, distribution of induced birefringence, cell gap effect, correlation between operation voltage and Kerr constant, and wavelength dispersion are investigated. Viewing angle is another important parameter. We have optimized the device configurations according to the device physics studied. With proper new device designs, the operating voltage is decreased dramatically from around 50 Volts to below 10 Volts with a reasonably high transmittance (~70%) which enables the BPLCDs to be addressed by amorphous silicon thin-film transistors (TFTs). Moreover, weak wavelength v dispersion, samll color shift, and low hysteresis BPLCDs are achieved after their root causes being unveiled. Optimization of device configurations plays a critical role to the widespread applications of BPLCDs. In addition to displays, blue phase liquid crystals can also be used for photonic applications, such as light modulator, phase grating, adaptive lens and photonic crystals. We will introduce the application of blue phase liquid crystal as a modulator to realize a viewing angle controllable display. The viewing angle can be tuned continuously and precisely with a fast response time. The detailed design and performance are also presented in this dissertation.


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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

February 2013

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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