The aberration introduced by the primary optical element of a lightweight large aperture telescope can be corrected with a diffractive optical element called the liquid crystal spatial light modulator. Such aberration is usually very large, which makes the design and modeling of such a system difficult. A method to analyze the system is introduced, and the performance limitation of the system is studied through extensive modeling. An experimental system is demonstrated to validate the analysis. The connection between the modeling data and the experimental data is given.
Gruneisen has shown that small, light weight, liquid crystal based devices can correct for the optical distortion caused by an imperfect primary mirror in a telescope and has discussed the efficiency of this correction. In this paper we expand on that work and propose a semi- analytical approach for quantifying the efficiency of a liquid crystal based wavefront corrector for this application.
2-D optical phased array antennas formed by a liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) spatial light modulator are described for free-space laser communication and high-resolution wavefront control. The device consists of an 2-D array of 1024×768 phase modulator elements, each with controlled voltage, and can induce a phase shift from 0 to 2 for wavelengths up to the near IR. When the device is used as a wavefront corrector, 18.7 waves peak-valley (at 632.8 nm) of aberration in the optical system is corrected to a residual of 1/9 wave peak-valley, or 1/30 wave rms. The Strehl ratio improved from 0.006 to 0.83 after correction. An additional linear phase ramp was added to the correction phase ramp to simultaneously correct and steer the laser beam. Continuous steering over ±4 mrad in the X-Y plane with a steering accuracy higher than 10 µrad has been obtained. The 1-D beam-steering efficiency is 80% at the maximum steering angle of 4 mrad. These results suggest that an LCOS device can be used to achieve very high-resolution wavefront control at very high efficiency.
The effect of fringing electric fields in a liquid crystal (LC) Optical Phased Array (OPA), also referred to as a spatial light modulator (SLM), is a governing factor that determines the diffraction efficiency (DE) of the LC OPA for high resolution spatial phase modulation. In this article, the fringing field effect in a high resolution LC OPA is studied by accurate modeling the DE of the LC blazed gratings by LC director simulation and Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulation. Influence factors that contribute significantly to the DE are discussed. Such results provide fundamental understanding for high resolution LC devices.
2-D Optical Phased Array (OPA) antenna based on a Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCoS) device can be considered for use in free space optical communication as an active beam controlling device. Several examples of the functionality of the device include: beam steering in horizontal and elevation direction; high resolution wavefront compensation in large telescope; beam shaping with computer generated kinoform. Various issues related to the diffraction efficiency, steering range, steering accuracy as well as magnitude of wavefront compensation is discussed.
A polymer wall confined transmissive switchable liquid crystal grating is proposed and investigated by two-dimensional finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) optical calculation and liquid crystal director calculation for the first time. The results show how to get optimized conditions for high diffraction efficiency by adjusting liquid crystal parameters, grating geometric structure and applied voltage. The light propagation direction and efficiency can be accurately calculated as well as visualized at the same time.
A spatial light modulator, which is capable of high-resolution wavefront compensation and high accuracy beam steering, has been demonstrated using a Liquid Crystal On Silicon (LCOS) microdisplay with 1024×768 XGA resolution. When the device is used as a wavefront corrector, about 18.7 waves (peak-to-valley at 632.8nm) of aberration in the optical system is corrected to a residual of 1/9 wave (peak to valley) or 1/30 wave rms. Measurement of the far field beam profile confirmed the strehl ratio improved from 0.006 with the wavefront correction off, to a strehl ratio of 0.83 after correction. An additional linear phase ramp was added to the correction phase ramp to simultaneously correct and steer the laser beam. We demonstrated we can steer the beam continuously in the range of ±4 mrad in X-Y plane, with a steering accuracy better than 10μrad, or about 1/10 the diffraction limited beam divergence. The quality of the steered beam remains very high during the steering as the ellipticity of beam is smaller than 1±0.04, focused beam waist is 1.3x the diffraction limited beam waist and strehl ratio remains higher than 0.66. The 1-D beam steering efficiency is 80% at the maximum steering angle of 4 mrad, which agrees very well with our Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) simulation result of diffraction efficiency 86% at maximum steering angle. These results suggest that an LCOS device can be used to achieve very high-resolution wavefront control at very high efficiency.