liquid crystal display, beam steering, modeling, finite element method, optics


Liquid crystal (LC) materials have been widely applied in electro-optical devices, among which display is the most successful playground and numerous new applications in photonic areas (such as laser beam steering devices) are also emerging. To well guide the device design for optimum performance, accurate modeling is of prior and practical importance. Generally, the modeling of LC devices includes two parts in sequence: accurate LC molecule deformation extraction under external electric fields and optical calculation thereafter for the corresponding electro-optical behaviors. In this dissertation, first, hybrid finite element method and finite difference method are developed to minimize the free energy of the LC systems. In this part of study, with computer-aided derivation, the full forms of the LC free energy equations without any simplification can be obtained. Besides, Galerkin's method and weak form technique are further introduced to successfully degrade the high order nonlinear derivative terms associated with the free energy equations into ones that can be treated by first order interpolation functions for high accuracy. The developed modeling methods for LC deformation are further employed to study display structures, such as 2D and 3D in-plane switching LC cells, and provides accurate results. Followed is the optical modeling using extended Jones matrix and beam propagation method to calculate the electro-optical performances of different devices, according to their amplitude modulation property or diffractive one. The developed methods are further taken to assist the understanding, development, and optimization of the display and photonic devices. For their application in the display area, sunlight readable transflective LCDs for mobile devices and the related optical films for wide viewing angle are developed and studied. New cell structure using vertically aligned liquid crystal mode is developed and studied to obtain a single cell gap, high light efficiency transflective LCD that can be driven by one gray scale control circuit for both transmissive and reflective modes. And employing an internal wire grid polarizer into a fringe field switching cell produces a single cell gap and wide viewing angle display with workable reflective mode under merely two linear polarizers. To solve the limited viewing angle of conventional circular polarizers, Poincare sphere as an effective tool is taken to trace and understand the polarization change of the incident light throughout the whole LC system. This study further guides the design of high performance circular polarizers that can consist of purely uniaxial plates or a combination of uniaxial and biaxial plates. The developed circular polarizers greatly enhance the viewing angle of transflective LCDs. Especially, the circular polarizer design using a biaxial film can even provide comparable wide viewing angle performance for the same vertically aligned cell as it is used between merely two linear polarizers, while using circular polarizers can greatly boost the display brightness. As for the beam steering device modeling, the developed LC deformation method is taken to accurately calculate the associated LC director distribution in the spatial light modulator, while beam propagation method and Fourier transformation technique are combined to calculate the near and far fields from such devices. The modeling helps to better understand the origins and formations of the disclinations associated with the fringe fields, which further result in reduced steering efficiency and output asymmetric polarizations between positive and negative diffractions. Optimization in both voltage profile and driving methods is conducted to well tune the LC deformation under strong fringe fields and improve the light efficiency.


If this is your thesis or dissertation, and want to learn how to access it or for more information about readership statistics, contact us at

Graduation Date





Wu, Shin-Tson


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Engineering and Computer Science


Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Degree Program

Electrical Engineering








Release Date

December 2007

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)