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Traditionally, the light receptor and light modulation aspects of Optically Addressed Spatial Light Modulators (OASLMs) occur in separate layers. Due to the progress that has been made in the study of nonlinearity in liquid crystal cell doped with chromophores in the past 20 years, it is appropriate to consider in what ways they themselves may be useful as OASLMs. The light reception and modulation aspects coexist within the same layer in these cells.
We have been studying a variety of chromophore-doped systems (azo and anthraquinone dyes, buckminsterfullerene, and carbon nanotubes) over the past four years. Dynamic holographic grating formation is observed under conditions of low power laser light both with and without external fields. The majority of the samples are planar aligned and normal incidence of light can be used. They possess very good lifetime stability and no degradation even under high write light intensities. We understand how to avoid permanent recordings using appropriate alignment surfaces. This is important in OASLM applications where real-time updating of written information is required (dynamic holography, all-optical switching). The resolution of the devices is superior to the thickness of the liquid crystal layer, and comparable to the best traditional OASLMs. We are currently working on understanding the dynamics in order to address the issue of speed of response. The report will include latest results on diffraction efficiency from our OASLM characterization set-up.
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N. Collings, O. Trushkevych, W. A. Crossland, T. D. Wilkinson, "Single layer liquid crystal optically addressed spatial light modulators," Proc. SPIE 6332, Liquid Crystals X, 633205 (15 September 2006);