12 September 2013 Liquid crystal chiroptical polarization rotators for the near-UV region: theory, materials, and device applications
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Abstract
The helical structure of a chiral-nematic liquid crystal (CLC) material produces a number of interesting optical properties, including selective reflection and optical rotatory power. To take advantage of the high optical rotation near the selective reflection peak for applications in the UV, either large concentrations of chiral components or those possessing very large helical twisting powers (HTP’s) are necessary. It is difficult to find chiral twisting agents with high HTP that do not degrade the UV transmission. We report what we believe to be the first experimental observation of extraordinarily high optical rotation (<30°/μm) in the near UV for a long-pitch (13.8-μm) CLC mixture composed of the low-birefringence nematic host ZLI-1646 doped with a low concentration (e.g., 1 wt%) of the chiral dopant CB 15. This experimental finding is verified theoretically using a mathematical model developed by Belyakov, which improves on de Vries’ original model for optical rotation far from the selective reflection peak by taking into account the nonlinearity of optical rotatory power as a function of liquid crystal (LC) layer thickness. Using this model, the optical rotation at λ = 355 nm for the 1% CB 15/ZLI-1646 mixture is determined computationally, with the results in agreement with experimental data obtained by evaluating a series of wedged cells using an areal mapping, Hinds Exicor 450XT Mueller Matrix Polarimeter. This finding now opens a path to novel LC optics for numerous near-UV applications. One such envisioned application for this class of materials would be UV distributed polarization rotators (UV-DPR’s) for largeaperture, high-peak-power lasers.
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D. Saulnier, B. Taylor, K. L. Marshall, T. J. Kessler, S. D. Jacobs, "Liquid crystal chiroptical polarization rotators for the near-UV region: theory, materials, and device applications", Proc. SPIE 8828, Liquid Crystals XVII, 882807 (12 September 2013); doi: 10.1117/12.2023713; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2023713
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