Liquid crystal, blue phase, display, optics, photonics


For the past few decades, tremendous progress has been made on liquid crystal display (LCD) technologies in terms of stability, resolution, contrast ratio, and viewing angle. The remaining challenge is response time. The state-of-the-art response time of a nematic liquid crystal is a few milliseconds. Faster response time is desirable in order to reduce motion blur and to realize color sequential display using RGB LEDs, which triples the optical efficiency and resolution density. Polymer-stabilized blue phase liquid crystal (PS-BPLC) is a strong candidate for achieving fast response time because its self-assembled cubic structure greatly reduces the coherence length. The response time is typically in the submillisecond range and can even reach microsecond under optimized conditions. Moreover, it exhibit several attractive features, such as no need for surface alignment layer, intrinsic wide viewing angle, and cell gap insensitivity if an in-plane-switching (IPS) cell is employed. In this dissertation, recent progresses in polymer-stabilized blue phases, or more generally optically-isotropic liquid crystals, are presented. Potential applications in display and photonic devices are also demonstrated. In Chapter 1, a brief introduction of optically isotropic liquid crystals is given. In Chapter 2, we investigate each component of polymer-stabilized blue phase materials and provide guidelines for material preparation and optimization. In Chapter 3, the electro-optical properties of PS-BPLCs, including electric-field-induced birefringence and dynamic behaviors are characterized. Theoretical models are proposed to explain the physical phenomena. Good agreements between experimental data and models are obtained. The proposed models also provide useful guidelines for both material and device optimizations. Four display and photonic devices using PS-BPLCs are demonstrated in Chapter 4. First, by red-shifting the Bragg reflection and using circular polarizers, we reduce the LCD driving voltage by 35% as compared to a short-pitch BPLC while maintaining high contrast ratio and submillisecond response time. Second, a turning film which is critically needed for widening the viewing angle of a vertical field switching (VFS) BPLC mode is designed. With this film, the viewing angle of VFS is widened to [plus or minus] 80[degrees] in horizontal direction and [plus or minus] 50[degrees] in vertical direction. Without this turning film, the viewing angle is only [plus or minus]30[degrees], which is too narrow for most applications. Third, a reflective BPLC display with vivid colors, submillisecond response time, and natural grayscales is demonstrated for the first time. The proposed BPLC reflective display opens a new gateway for 3D reflective displays; it could make significant impact to display industry. Finally, we demonstrate a tunable phase grating with a high diffraction efficiency of 40% and submillisecond response time. This tunable grating exhibits great potential for photonic and display applications, such as optical interconnects, beam steering, and projection displays.


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Graduation Date





Wu, Shintson


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics


Optics and Photonics

Degree Program

Optics and Photonics








Release Date

February 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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