Beam Steering Using A New Class Of Fast, High-Polarization Ferroelectric Liquid
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
It has long been known that optical phased array (OPA) beam steering can be performed by liquid crystal devices, yet available liquid crystals are either too slow for many applications (1 ms - 100's of milliseconds) or they are incapable of producing the necessary range of analog phase modulation. Developments in a new class of ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) during the last couple of years have the potential to overcome these limitations, enabling OPA beam steering devices with speeds in excess of 5 kHz. During Phase I we showed the feasibility of achieving hysteresis-free analog switching of the new FLCs using the charge-controlled drive scheme that we've devised. Furthermore, we demonstrated the feasibility of the proposed charge-control VLSI drive circuit for use in future liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCOS) OPAs. In Phase II we propose to complete development of the new FLC, to demonstrate one-dimensional beam steering, to develop a process for integrating the necessary wave plate within the LCOS structure, and to develop and test VLSI pixel-drive circuits. At the end of Phase II we aim to be ready for Phase III product engineering of an OPA fine steering mirror capable of the speed and accuracy required for free space optical communications systems.
Small Business Information at Submission:
2602 Clover Basin Drive Longmont, CO 80503
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