Liquid crystals have effective electro-optic coefficients that are orders of magnitude larger than other integrated optical materials such as lithium niobate. However, previous studies of liquid-crystal waveguides have mainly focused on nematic liquid crystals, which exhibit impractically large scattering losses as waveguides. Studies of smectic liquid crystals and liquid crystals under strong confinement suggest the losses in these materials may be more manageable. In this study, the possibility of using ferroelectric liquid crystals in active waveguide modulators is explored through the analysis of several modulator configurations: a cutoff modulator, a deflection modulator, and an input coupler. As a way to study these structures, a mode-matching technique was developed to analyze the effects of a discontinuity in a uniaxial slab waveguide whose optic axis is in the plane of the waveguide. The results from the mode-matching technique were compared with those from simple bulk models. The analysis shows that ferroelectric liquid-crystal modulators have many desirable performance characteristics and could form the basis for practical waveguide modulators.
© 1996 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: March 21, 1995
Revised Manuscript: September 14, 1995
Published: June 1, 1996
D. B. Walker, E. N. Glytsis, and T. K. Gaylord, "Ferroelectric liquid-crystal waveguide modulation based on a switchable uniaxial–uniaxial interface," Appl. Opt. 35, 3016-3030 (1996)