Liquid Crystal, High Birefringence, Low Viscosity, Dual-Frequency, Negative Dielectric Anisotropy, High Contrast Ratio


In this dissertation, liquid crystal (LC) materials and devices are investigated in order to meet the challenges for photonics and displays applications. We have studied three kinds of liquid crystal materials: positive dielectric anisotropic LCs, negative dielectric anisotropic LCs, and dual- frequency LCs. For the positive dielectric anisotropic LCs, we have developed some high birefringence isothiocyanato tolane LC compounds with birefringence ~0.4, and super high birefringence isothiocyanato biphenyl-bistolane LC compounds with birefringence as high as ~0.7. Moreover, we have studied the photostability of several high birefringence LC compounds, mixtures, and LC alignment layers in order to determine the failure mechanism concerning the lifetime of LC devices. Although cyano and isothiocyanato LC compounds have similar absorption peaks, the isothiocyanato compounds are more stable than their cyano counterparts under the same illumination conditions. This ultraviolet-durable performance of isothiocyanato compounds originates from its molecular structure and the delocalized electron distribution. We have investigated the alignment performance of negative dielectric anisotropic LCs in homeotropic (vertical aligned, VA) LC cell. Some (2,3) laterally difluorinated biphenyls, terphenyls and tolanes are selected for this study. Due to the strong repulsive force between LCs and alignment layer, (2,3) laterally difluorinated terphenyls and tolanes do not align well in a VA cell resulting in a poor contrast ratio for the LC panel. We have developed a novel method to suppress the light leakage at dark state. By doping positive [Delta][epsilon] or non-polar LC compounds/mixtures into the host negative LC mixtures, the repulsive force is reduced and the cell exhibits an excellent dark state. In addition, these dopants increase the birefringence and reduce the viscosity of the host LCs which leads to a faster response time. Dual-frequency liquid crystal exhibits a unique feature that its dielectric anisotropy changes from positive to negative when we increase the operating frequency. Submillisecond response time can be achieved by switching the frequency of a biased voltage, rather than switching the voltage at a given frequency. In this dissertation, we investigate the dielectric heating effect of dual-frequency LCs. Because the absorption peak of imaginary dielectric constant occurs at high frequency region (~ MHz), there is a heat generated when the LC cell is operated at a high frequency voltage. To measure the transient temperature change of the LC inside the cell, we have developed a non-contact method by utilizing the temperature-dependent birefringence property of the LC. Most importantly, we have formulated a new dual-frequency LC mixture which greatly reduces the dielectric heating effect while maintaining good physical properties. Another achievement in this thesis is that we have developed a polarization independent phase modulator by using a negative dielectric anisotropic LC gel. With ~20 % of polymer mixed in the LC host, the LC forms polymer network which, in turn, exerts a strong anchoring force to the neighboring LC molecules. As a result, the operating voltage increases but the response time is significantly decreased. On the phase shift point of view, our homeotropic LC gel has ~0.08 [pi] phase shift, which is 2X larger than the previous nano-sized polymer-dispersed liquid crystal droplets. Moreover, it is free from light scattering and requires a lower operating voltage. In conclusion, this dissertation provides solutions to improve the performance of LC devices both in photonics and displays applications. These will have great impacts in defense and display systems such as optical phased array, LCD TVs, projectors, and LCD monitors.


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Wu, Shin-Tson


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Optics and Photonics

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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)