Since the concepts of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) were introduced, they have attracted people's attention worldwide, both in the industry and research areas. As the most promising hardware architecture that can bring AR/VR into daily life, near eye displays (NEDs) have been studied and investigated heavily over the past half-century, especially the concept of "Metaverse" introduced by some top companies in recent years. However, the form factor and optical efficiency are two major bottlenecks for the current NEDs before they can become the major platform. Liquid crystal (LC) flat optics have several advantages, including compact, high diffraction efficiency, easy to pattern, highly transparent and low cost. Therefore, they are idea candidates for NEDs applications. In this dissertation, we focus on the novel LC flat optics applications in the NEDs, aiming to reduce the system form factor and enhance the system optical efficiency. The first half surrounds VR applications and systems, which adopt transmission-type LC flat optics. The second half covers AR system design and demonstration, which takes the advantages of reflection-type LC flat optics. In VR part, we demonstrate an approach to double the optical efficiency of VR systems based on a directional backlight and a diffractive deflection film (DDF), which is a specially designed LC flat optics. Our approach works well in both Fresnel and "pancake" VR systems. We also have the simulation model, which exhibits results highly consistent with the experiment. What's more, a new ultra-compact VR system is also proposed and demonstrated in this dissertation. In this ultra-compact VR system, an LC deflector is inserted into the imaging optics and it can achieve a process called polarization interpolation. This process helps reduce the distance from the display panel to the imaging optics by 50% in theory. In AR part, we design and demonstrate a gaze matched Maxwellian-view AR system pupil steering system. This system applies the LC flat optics as the optical combiner. In the demo, this system achieves many good properties, including compact form factor, high optical efficiency, gaze matching, extended eyebox, aberration free, good ambient light transmittance and relatively large field of view. The proposed applications and systems with LC flat optics are attractive for 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




CFE0009638; DP0027674





Release Date

May 2023

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Optics Commons