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Nat Mater. 2005 May;4(5):383-7. Epub 2005 Apr 24.

Electro-tunable optical diode based on photonic bandgap liquid-crystal heterojunctions.

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Department of Organic and Polymeric Materials, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo 152-8552, Japan.


Manipulation of light is in strong demand in information technologies. Among the wide range of linear and nonlinear optical devices that have been used, growing attention has been paid to photonic crystals that possess a periodic modulation of dielectric function. Among many photonic bandgap (PBG) structures, liquid crystals with periodic structures are very attractive as self-assembled photonic crystals, leading to optical devices such as dye lasers. Here we report a new hetero-PBG structure consisting of an anisotropic nematic layer sandwiched between two cholesteric liquid-crystal layers with different helical pitches. We optically visualized the dispersion relation of this structure, displaying the optical diode performance: that is, the non-reciprocal transmission of circular polarized light at the photonic-bandgap regions. Transmittance spectra with circularly polarized light also reveal the diode performance, which is well simulated in calculations that include an electro-tunable diode effect. Lasing action was also confirmed to show the diode effect with a particular directionality.

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