SBIR Phase I: A New Class of Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals for High Performance Optical Phase Modulation
National Science Foundation
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Small Business Information
2602 Clover Basin Drive, Longmont, CO, 80503
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
AbstractThis Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project will explore the development of a new class of ferroelectric liquid crystal (FLC) materials and a novel FLC operating mode to produce fast, analog, electro-optical phase modulation. The innovation exploits two new developments in the science and technology of FLCs: bent-core FLCs and electrostatically controlled analog modulation of high polarization FLCs. The Phase I objectives are to formulate enhanced materials of the new-type FLCs and use them to test the feasibility of the proposed electro-optic modulation mode. Anticipated results include an assessment of the innovation's feasibility, an improved understanding of the physical, chemical, and optical properties of these new materials, and the identification of further FLC material and cell advances that need to be achieved in Phase II for subsequent commercialization. The new phase modulators will be much faster than existing modulators made with nematic LCs and will operate at lower drive voltage. They will also achieve a full 360 degrees range of pure analog phase modulation with no optic axis rotation, a goal that has been impossible to reach using conventional FLCs. Phase modulation is the foundation for electro-optical beam steering and optical wave front correction, which find application in free-space optical communications, in M x N all-optical switches for telecommunications, in beam steering and beam shaping for laser radar in aviation, and in active optics. The new FLCs will also enable higher performance megabit write-heads for the emerging holographic data storage industry, and will be useful for optical information processing. They also enable fast tunable filters useful for WDM optical telecommunications systems.
* information listed above is at the time of submission.