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Opt Express. 2013 Mar 11;21(5):5332-7. doi: 10.1364/OE.21.005332.

A fast response variable optical attenuator based on blue phase liquid crystal.

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National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures and College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China.


Blue phase liquid crystals (BPLCs) are promising candidates for next generation display thanks to their fast response and quasi-isotropic optical properties. By taking these advantages, we propose to introduce the material into fiber-optic applications. As an example, a BPLC based variable optical attenuator (VOA) is demonstrated with a polarization independent design. The device shows normally-off feature when no field is applied. Response time down to submillisecond scale is achieved in switching between two arbitrary attenuation states. The attenuation range is also measured from 1480 to 1550 nm, which cover the whole telecomm S-band and part of the C-band. The overall performances reach the requirements for practical use; while still have room for further improvement. Through this example, the applicability of BPLC in fiber-optic devices is presented, which may impel the development of many other photonic applications from infrared to even microwave regions.

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