Liquid crystal, display, birefringence, response time, fringe field switching, blue phase liquid crystal, polymer stabilzation, brag reflection, monodomain blue phase, vertical field switching, fluoro terphenyl, mwir


Thin-film-transistor (TFT) liquid crystal display (LCD) has been widely used in smartphones, pads, laptops, computer monitors, and large screen televisions, just to name a few. A great deal of effort has been delved into wide viewing angle, high resolution, low power consumption, and vivid color. However, relatively slow response time and low transmittance remain as technical challenges. To improve response time, several approaches have been developed, such as low viscosity liquid crystals, overdrive and undershoot voltage schemes, thin cell gap with a high birefringence liquid crystal, and elevated temperature operation. The state-of-the-art gray-to-gray response time of a nematic LC device is about 5 ms, which is still not fast enough to suppress the motion picture image blur. On the other hand, the LCD panel's transmittance is determined by the backlight, polarizers, TFT aperture ratio, LC transmittance, and color filters. Recently, a fringe-field-switching mode using a negative dielectric anisotropy (Δε) LC (n-FFS) has been demonstrated, showing high transmittance (98%), single gamma curve, and cell gap insensitivity. It has potential to replace the commonly used p-FFS (FFS using positive Δε LC) for mobile displays. With the urgent need of submillisecond response time for enabling color sequential displays, polymer-stabilized blue phase liquid crystal (PS-BPLC) has become an increasingly important technology trend for information display and photonic applications. BPLCs exhibit several attractive features, such as reasonably wide temperature range, submillisecond gray-to-gray response time, no need for alignment layer, optically isotropic voltage-off state, and large cell gap tolerance. However, some bottlenecks such as high operation voltage, hysteresis, residual birefringence, and slow charging issue due to the large capacitance, remain to be overcome before their widespread applications can be realized. The material system of PS-BPLC, including nematic LC host, chiral dopant, and polymer network, are discussed in detail. Each component plays an essential role affecting the electro-optic properties and the stability of PS-BPLC. In a PS-BPLC system, in order to lower the operation voltage the host LC usually has a very large dielectric anisotropy (Δε>100), which is one order of magnitude larger than that of a nematic LC. Such a large Δε not only leads to high viscosity but also results in a large capacitance. High viscosity slows down the device fabrication process and increases device response time. On the other hand, large capacitance causes slow charging time to each pixel and limits the frame rate. To reduce viscosity, we discovered that by adding a small amount (~6%) of diluters, the response time of the PS-BPLC is reduced by 2X-3X while keeping the Kerr constant more or less unchanged. Besides, several advanced PS-BPLC materials and devices have been demonstrated. By using a large Δε BPLC, we have successfully reduced the voltage to <10V while maintaining submillisecond response time. Finally we demonstrated an electric fieldindeced monodomain PS-BPLC, which enables video-rate reflective display with vivid colors. The highly selective reflection in polarization makes it promising for photonics application. Besides displays in the visible spectral region, LC materials are also very useful electro-optic media for near infrared and mid-wavelength infrared (MWIR) devices. However, large absorption has impeded the widespread application in the MWIR region. With delicate molecular design strategy, we balanced the absorption and liquid crystal phase stability, and proposed a fluoro-terphenyl compound with low absorption in both MWIR and near IR regions. This compound serves as an important first example for future development of low-loss MWIR liquid crystals, which would further expand the application of LCs for amplitude and/or phase modulation in MWIR region.


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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

August 2014

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


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