Phase modulators with tunability in wavefronts and optical axes originating from anisotropic molecular tilts under symmetric electric field II: Experiments

Yu Jen Wang*, Yi Hsin Lin*, Ozan Cakmakci, Victor Reshetnyak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

We demonstrate, for the first time, an electrically-tunable and physically-planar freeform optical element made up of nematic liquid crystals (LCs). Continued on numerical study in previous paper (Part I), experimental results here show that it is possible to break the rotational symmetry of the wavefront through the use of uneven tilt angles of the LC molecules even though the electric potential is rotationally symmetric. Our optical element offers the ability to electrically tune the direction of the optical axis, the wavefront deviation, as well as the Zernike polynomials for general descriptions of wavefronts. Corresponding Zernike coefficients of a Zernike polynomial that are related to defocus and spherical aberration, which can be adjusted individually or together. The minimum wavefront deviation is >λ/6. The Zernike coefficients related to coma aberration or the tilt of the optical axis are also electrically tunable. By incorporating our LC phase modulator with tunability of freeform wavefronts into a simple reflective optical system, we demonstrate convincing image performance for off-axis image aberration correction. This approach will inspire further development and design of LC optical elements for applications, such as hyperspectral imagers in aerospace optics, augmented reality, virtual reality, quantum information systems, innovative miniaturized reflective telescopic systems for astrophysics, planetary science, and earth science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8985-9001
Number of pages17
JournalOptics Express
Volume28
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 16 Mar 2020

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