SBIR PhaseI: Photo-reconfigurable Alignment Surfaces for Liquid Crystals
Small Business Information
2602 Clover Basin Drive, Longmont, CO, 80503
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)Phase I project aims to investigate the development of photo-reconfigureable surfaces that will enable control of ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) alignment and switching properties in ways not previously possible. The central problem is that the FLC-surface interaction forces needed to produce good optical uniformity of the FLC (alignment) are different from the forces needed for good analog electro-optic performance. If successful, our solution to this problem has the potential to enable sought-after fast analog electro-optic modulation modes (< 100 us) sought for beam steering, adaptive and active optics, tunable optical filters, optical information processing, displays, and telecommunications. The Phase I objective is to develop prototypes of the proposed surface materials and to evaluate them by building liquid crystal test cells. The crucial test will be to determine whether or not the surfaces can be configured first to promote good FLC alignment during cell fabrication, and then be photo-reconfigured into a state providing optimal surface forces for analog electro-optic modulation. The analog electro-optic modulation that would be enabled by the proposed innovation is the foundation for a class of advanced optical devices. A leading example is laser beam steering and optical wave front correction that find application in free-space optical communications, in MxN all-optical switches for telecommunications, and in beam steering and beam shaping for laser radar in aviation. It would also be useful in megabit write heads for the emerging holographic data storage industry, in tunable filters used in optical telecommunications, in spatial light modulators for optical information processing, and in microdisplays for consumer electronics.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.