As a promising next-generation display, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have shown attractive features and attracted broad interests from both academia and industry. Currently, these near-eye displays (NEDs) have enabled numerous applications, ranging from education, medical, entertainment, to engineering, with the help of compact and functional patterned liquid crystal (LC) devices. The interplay between LC patterns and NEDs stimulates the development of novel LC devices with unique surface alignments and volume structures, which in turn feedback to achieve more compact and versatile NEDs. This dissertation will focus on the patterned LC with applications in NEDs. Firstly, we propose and explain the working principles and generation of novel patterned LC devices, including LC configurations, surface alignment mechanism, polarization field generation, and fabrication process. Secondly, we theoretically analyze the optical properties of patterned LC devices, providing the optical efficiency, devices thickness, polarization selectivity, wavelength, and angular bandwidth. Based on the dimensions of the surface pattern, the LC devices can be divided into reflector, grating, and lens, respectively. Finally, we focus on the applications of these novel patterned LC devices to address some challenges in current NEDs. More specifically, achieving a high-resolution density in NEDs, especially for VR systems is an urgent issue. To enhance the resolution without introducing any extra burden to the system, we propose an elegant method with the combination of foveated view and polarization multiplexing, based on LC reflector. For LC grating, it shows a nearly 100% efficiency with a large diffraction angle, which is a perfect candidate for the waveguide-based AR systems. We propose and demonstrate the LC grating-based waveguide AR with benchtop demo and further performance optimization. For LC lens, it can achieve controllable power and large off-axis angle while maintaining high efficiency. These unique and attractive features give LC lenses the ability to achieve a glasses-like AR architecture while maintaining high optical efficiency. Based on this LC lens, we demonstrate a novel AR system design using polarization and time multiplexing methods to simultaneously obtain a double field of view and a glasses-like form factor. The proposed patterned LC devices for NED applications are validated by both optical simulation and experiment. Multiple tabletop demos are constructed to illustrate how these patterned LC devices can significantly improve the visual experiences of these next-generation NEDs.


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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




CFE0009089; DP0026422





Release Date

May 2022

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)