Liquid crystal, photonic crystal, tunable device, polymer
In this dissertation, liquid crystal materials and devices are investigated in meeting the challenges for photonics and communications applications. The first part deals with polymer-stabilized liquid crystal (PSLC) materials and devices. Three polymer-stabilized liquid crystal systems are developed for optical communications. The second part reports the experimental investigation of a novel liquid-crystal-infiltrated photonic crystal fiber (PCF) and explores its applications in fiber-optic communications. The curing temperature is found to have significant effects on the PSLC performance. The electro-optic properties of nematic polymer network liquid crystal (PNLC) at different curing temperatures are investigated experimentally. At high curing temperature, a high contrast, low drive voltage, and small hysteresis PNLC is obtained as a result of the formed large LC micro-domains. With the help of curing temperature effect, it is able to develop PNLC based optical devices with highly desirable performances for optical communications. Such high performance is generally considered difficult to realize for a PNLC. In fact, the poor performance of PNLC, especially at long wavelengths, has hindered it from practical applications for optical communications for a long time. Therefore, the optimal curing temperature effect discovered in this thesis would enable PSLCs for practical industrial applications. Further more, high birefringence LCs play an important role for near infrared photonic devices. The isothiocyanato tolane liquid crystals exhibit a high birefringence and low viscosity. The high birefringence LC dramatically improves the PSLC contrast ratio while keeping a low drive voltage and fast response time. A free-space optical device by PNLC is experimentally demonstrated and its properties characterized. Most LC devices are polarization sensitive. To overcome this drawback, we have investigated the polymer-stabilized cholesteric LC (PSCLC). Combining the curing temperature effect and high birefringence LC, a polarization independent fiber-optical device is realized with over 30 dB attenuation, ~12 Vrms drive voltage and 11/28 milliseconds (rise/decay) response times. A polymer-stabilized twisted nematic LC (PS TNLC) is also proposed as a variable optical attenuator for optical communications. By using the polarization control system, the device is polarization independent. The polymer network in a PS TNLC not only results in a fast response time (0.9/9 milliseconds for rise/decay respectively), but also removes the backflow effect of TNLC which occurs in the high voltage regime.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Optics and Photonics
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Du, Fang, "Liquid Crystal Materials And Tunable Devices For Optical Communications" (2005). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 308.