We describe the development of laser optics utilizing liquid crystals. Devices discussed constitute passive optical elements for both low-power and high-power laser systems, operating in either the pulsed or cw mode. Designs and fabrication methods are given in detail for wave plates, circular polarizers, optical isolators, laser-blocking notch filters, and soft apertures. Performance data in the visible to near infrared show these devices to be useful alternatives to other technologies based on conventional glasses, crystals, or thin films. The issue of laser damage is examined on the basis of off-line threshold testing and daily use in OMEGA, the 24-beam Nd:glass laser system at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics. Results demonstrate that long-term survivability has been achieved.
© 1988 Optical Society of America
Original Manuscript: January 29, 1988
Manuscript Accepted: April 26, 1988
Published: September 1, 1988
S. D. Jacobs, K. A. Cerqua, K. L. Marshall, A. Schmid, M. J. Guardalben, and K. J. Skerrett, "Liquid-crystal laser optics: design, fabrication, and performance," J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 5, 1962-1979 (1988)