Liquid crystal (LC) has been widely used for displays, spatial light modulators, variable optical attenuators (VOAs) and other tunable photonic devices. The response time of these devices is mainly determined by the employed liquid crystal material. How to obtain fast response for the LC devices is a fundamentally important and technically challenging task. In this dissertation, we investigate several methods to improve liquid crystal response time, for examples, using dual-frequency liquid crystals, polymer stabilized liquid crystals, and sheared polymer network liquid crystals. We discover a new class of material, denoted as sheared polymer network liquid crystal (SPNLC) which exhibits a submillisecond response time. First, dual-frequency liquid crystals and polymer network methods are demonstrated as examples for the variable optical attenuators. Variable optical attenuator (VOA) is a key component in optical communications. Especially, the sheared PNLC VOA shows the best result; its dynamic range reaches 43 dB while the response time is in the submillisecond range at 1550 nm wavelength, which is 50 times faster than the commercial LC-based VOA. Second, we report a new device called axially-symmetric sheared polymer network liquid crystals (AS-SPNLC) and use it as LC devices. An axially-symmetric sheared polymer network liquid crystal has several attractive features: 1) it is polarization independent, 2) it has gradient phase change, and 3) its response time is fast. It can be used for polarization converter and divergent LC lens. In addition, a new method for simultaneously measuring the phase retardation and optic axis of a compensation film is demonstrated using an axially-symmetric sheared polymer network liquid crystal. This simple technique can be used for simultaneously measuring the optic axis and phase retardations of both A- and C-plates. These compensation films have been used extensively in wide-view LCD industry. Therefore, this method will make an important impact to the LCD industry.
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Optics and Photonics
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Wu, Yung-Hsun, "Fast Response Liquid Crystal Devices" (2006). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 823.