This paper reports an optical tunable filter array (TFA) based on a LCOS (liquid crystal on silicon) chip. The input broadband optical beam is first dispersed by a bulk grating and then incident on the LCOS chip. The LCOS chip is phase-only modulated and constructed as a dynamic reflective phase grating. The phase modulation is adjusted to meet the Littrow angle for a specified passband wavelength and thus the optical beam corresponding to this wavelength is steered to the output. The input/output optical beams are coupled to optical fibers with a dual-fiber collimator. Four dualfiber collimators are vertically aligned as the inputs/outputs and the pixels of the LCOS chip are vertically allocated as four independent zones. Thus the device can act as a 4-channel TFA, which is assembled and functionally demonstrated.
One of the mini-projects for the course of physical optics is reported. The project is designed to increase comprehension on the basics and applications of polarized light and birefringent crystal. Firstly, the students are required to analyze the basic principle of an optical circulator based on birefringent crystal. Then, they need to consider the engineering optimization problems. The key tasks include analyzing the polarization transforming unit (composed of a half-waveplate and a Faraday rotator) based on Jones matrix, maximizing the walk-off angle between e-ray and o-ray in birefringent crystal, separating e-ray and o-ray symmetrically, employment of a transformed Wollaston prism for input/output coupling of optical beams to fibers. Three years' practice shows that the project is of moderate difficulty, while it covers most of the related knowledge required for the course and helps to train the engineering thinking.