OSA's Digital Library

Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 22, Iss. 4 — Apr. 1, 2005
  • pp: 760–766

Stokes-parameter analysis of the polarization of light transmitted through a chiral nematic liquid-crystal cell

Kai L. Woon, Mary O’Neill, Gary J. Richards, Matthew P. Aldred, and Stephen M. Kelly  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 22, Issue 4, pp. 760-766 (2005)

View Full Text Article

Enhanced HTML    Acrobat PDF (268 KB)

Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Browse by Journal and Year


Lookup Conference Papers

Close Browse Journals / Lookup Meetings

Article Tools



A spectroscopic Stokes polarimeter is used to directly measure the linearly, circularly, and randomly polarized components of light obtained on transmission of unpolarized light through thick chiral nematic liquid-crystal cells in the stop band. The Stokes parameters are simulated to fit the experimental data by use of the Berreman 4 × 4 transfer matrix by means of the Jones and Stokes vectors and taking into account multiple reflections at the interfaces of the cell. Excellent agreement is obtained. The transmitted light through a commercial cell is mainly circularly polarized at normal incidence, but a significant linearly polarized component is also observed. The model shows that this results from refractive-index mismatching at the liquid-crystal–alignment-layer interface, but a small linearly polarized component remains even with optimized index matching. An improved device configuration incorporating random defects at the exit boundary of the liquid crystal gives a highly circularly polarized output with virtually no linear or unpolarized components.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(160.3710) Materials : Liquid crystals
(230.3720) Optical devices : Liquid-crystal devices
(260.1440) Physical optics : Birefringence
(260.5430) Physical optics : Polarization

Original Manuscript: July 15, 2004
Revised Manuscript: October 13, 2004
Manuscript Accepted: October 13, 2004
Published: April 1, 2005

Kai L. Woon, Gary J. Richards, Matthew P. Aldred, Mary O’Neill, and Stephen M. Kelly, "Stokes-parameter analysis of the polarization of light transmitted through a chiral nematic liquid-crystal cell," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 22, 760-766 (2005)

Sort:  Author  |  Year  |  Journal  |  Reset  


  1. J. D. Joannopoulos, R. D. Meade, J. N. Winn, Photonic Crystals (Princeton U. Press, Singapore, 1995).
  2. H. De Vries, “Rotatory power and other optical properties of certain liquid crystals,” Acta Crystallogr. 4, 219–226 (1951). [CrossRef]
  3. V. A. Belyakov, V. D. Dmitrienko, “Theory of the optical properties of cholesteric liquid crystals,” Sov. Phys. Solid State 15, 1811–1815 (1974).
  4. S. Chandrasekhar, J. S. Prasad, “Theory of rotatory dispersion of cholesteric liquid crystals,” Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 14, 115–128 (1971). [CrossRef]
  5. D. W. Berreman, T. J. Scheffer, “Reflection and transmission by single-domain cholesteric liquid crystal films: theory and verification,” Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 11, 395–405 (1970). [CrossRef]
  6. H. F. Gleeson, H. J. Coles, “Optical properties of chiral nematic liquid crystals,” Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 170, 9–34 (1989).
  7. H. Takezeo, Y. Ouchi, M. Hara, A. Fududa, E. Kuze, “Experimental studies on reflection spectra in monodomian cholesteric liquid crystals cells: total reflection, subsidiary oscillation and its beat or swell structure,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. 22, 1080–1091 (1983). [CrossRef]
  8. A. A. Gevorgyan, “Reflection and transmission of light in medium/cholesteric/substrate and glass(1)/Cholesteric/Glass(2) system,” Tech. Phys. 45, 1170–1176 (2000). [CrossRef]
  9. R. H. Good, A. Karali, “Transmission of cholesteric liquid crystal,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 11, 2145–2155 (1994). [CrossRef]
  10. K. L. Woon, M. O’Neill, G. J. Richards, M. P. Aldred, S. M. Kelly, A. M. Fox, “Highly circularly polarized photoluminescence over a broad spectral range from a calamitic, hole-transporting, chiral nematic glass and from an indirectly excited dye,” Adv. Mater. 15, 1555–1558 (2003). [CrossRef]
  11. S. H. Chen, D. Katsis, A. W. Schmid, J. C. Mastrangelo, T. Tsutsui, T. N. Blanton, “Circularly polarized light gen-erated by photoexcitation of luminophores in glassy liquid-crystal films,” Nature 397, 506–508 (1999). [CrossRef]
  12. M. Grell, M. Oda, K. S. Whitehead, A. Asimakis, D. Neher, D. D. C. Bradley, “A compact device for the efficient, electrically driven generation of highly circularly polarized light,” Adv. Mater. 13, 577–580 (2001). [CrossRef]
  13. H. P. Chen, D. Katsis, J. C. Mastrangelo, S. H. Chen, S. D. Jacobs, P. J. Hood, “Glassy liquid-crystal films, with opposite chirality as high-performance optical notch filters and reflectors,” Adv. Mater. 12, 1283–1286 (2000). [CrossRef]
  14. W. D. St. John, Z. J. Lu, J. W. Doane, “Characterization of reflective cholesteric liquid-crystal displays,” J. Appl. Phys. 78, 5253–5265 (1995). [CrossRef]
  15. M. Born, E. Wolf, Principles of Optics (Cambridge U. Press, Cambridge, UK, 1988).
  16. A. Gerrard, J. M. Burch, Introduction to Matrix Methods in Optics (Wiley, London, 1975).
  17. Y. Zhou, Z. He, S. Sato, “A novel method for determining the cell thickness and twist angle of a twisted nematic cell by Stokes parameter measurement,” Jpn. J. Appl. Phys. Part 1 36, 2760–2764 (1997). [CrossRef]
  18. H. G. Berry, G. Gabrielse, A. E. Livingston, “Measurement of Stokes parameters of light,” Appl. Opt. 16, 3200–3205 (1977). [CrossRef] [PubMed]
  19. E. I. Kats, “Optical properties of cholesteric liquid crystals,” Sov. Phys. JETP 32, 1004–1007 (1971).
  20. N. W. Roberts, J. P. S. Guillou, H. F. Gleeson, I. Kirar, S. J. Watson, E. O. Arikainen, “Optical properties of cholesteric materials used in surface stablised cholesteric texture devices,” Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 411, 1099–1111 (2004). [CrossRef]
  21. M. Xu, F. Xu, D. K. Yang, “Effect of cell structure of cholesteric liquid crystal displays,” J. Appl. Phys. 83, 1938–1944 (1998). [CrossRef]
  22. D. W. Berreman, “Optics in stratified and anisotropic media,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 62, 502–510 (1972). [CrossRef]
  23. P. J. Lin-Chung, S. Teitler, “4×4 matrix formalisms for optics in stratified anisotropic media,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 1, 703–705 (1984). [CrossRef]
  24. I. J. Hodgkinson, S. Kassam, Q. H. Wu, “Eigenequations and compact algorithms for bulk and layered anisotropic optical media: reflection and refraction at a crystal–crystal interface,” J. Comp. Physiol. 133, 75–83 (1997). [CrossRef]
  25. O. S. Heavens, Optical Properties of Thin Solid Films (Academic, New York, 1955).
  26. P. Yeh, “Electromagnetic propagation in birefringent layered media,” J. Opt. Soc. Am. 69, 742–754 (1979). [CrossRef]
  27. J. H. Kim, C. Rosenblatt, “Optical retardation of rub-induced scratches in a polyimide-treated substrate,” Appl. Phys. Lett. 72, 1917–1919 (1998). [CrossRef]
  28. A. Lakhtakia, “Dielectric sculptured thin films for polarization discriminatory handedness-inversion of circularly polarized light,” Opt. Eng. 38, 1596–1602 (1999). [CrossRef]
  29. Q. Wu, I. J. Hodgkinson, A. Lakhtakia, “Circular polarization filters made of chiral sculptured thin films: experimental and simulation results,” Opt. Eng. 39, 1863–1868 (2000). [CrossRef]
  30. I. J. Hodgkinson, Q. Wu, M. Arnod, M. W. McCall, A. Lakhtakia, “Chiral mirror and optical resonator designs for circularly polarized light: suppression of cross-polarized reflectances and transmittances,” Opt. Commun. 210, 201–211 (2002). [CrossRef]

Cited By

Alert me when this paper is cited

OSA is able to provide readers links to articles that cite this paper by participating in CrossRef's Cited-By Linking service. CrossRef includes content from more than 3000 publishers and societies. In addition to listing OSA journal articles that cite this paper, citing articles from other participating publishers will also be listed.

« Previous Article  |  Next Article »

OSA is a member of CrossRef.

CrossCheck Deposited