Active beam steering and afocal zooming by nematic liquid crystal-infiltrated graded index photonic structures
MetadataShow full item record
This study presents active beam steering and afocal zooming of light by incorporating liquid crystals (LCs) with graded index photonic crystals (GRIN PCs). The GRIN PC structures are composed of low refractive index polymer annular rods with holes of gradually varying radii. To actively manipulate incident light, the annular rods are infiltrated with nematic LCs. By applying an external voltage to the infiltrated LCs, the effective index profile of the low-index GRIN PC structure is modulated without introducing any mechanical movement. The incident beam deflection and corresponding focal distance modulation are tuned only by controlling the applied bias voltage. In the present work, the hyperbolic secant refractive index profile is chosen to design GRIN PC structures. To design a GRIN PC structure with annular PCs, the Maxwell-Garnett effective medium approximation is employed. We analytically express the relation between infiltrated LCs and the gradient parameter to show the physical background of the tuning ability of the proposed devices. Beam steering and afocal zooming devices are analytically investigated via geometrical optics, and numerically realized with the help of a finite-difference time-domain method. A beam deflection with an angle change of Delta theta(out) = 44 degrees and a light magnification with maximum x2.15 are obtained within operating frequencies of a/lambda = [0.10-0.15] and a/lambda = [0.15-0.25], respectively, where 'a' is the lattice constant and lambda is the incident wavelength. The corresponding operating frequency bandwidths are calculated as 40% and 50% for the beam steering and afocal zooming applications, respectively. LCs are inexpensive materials and work under low voltage/power conditions. This feature can be used for designing an electro-optic GRIN PC device that has the potential for use in a wide variety of optical applications.