There is an increasing need to control light phase with tailored precision via simple means in both fundamental science and industry. One of the best candidates to achieve this goal are electro-optical materials. In this work, a novel technique to modulate the spatial phase profle of a propagating light beam by means of liquid crystals (LC), electro-optically addressed by indium-tin oxide (ITO) grating microstructures, is proposed and experimentally demonstrated. A planar LC cell is assembled between two perpendicularly placed ITO gratings based on microstructured electrodes. By properly selecting only four voltage sources, we modulate the LC-induced phase profle such that non-difractive Bessel beams, laser stretching, beam steering, and 2D tunable difraction gratings are generated. In such a way, the proposed LC-tunable component performs as an all-in-one device with unprecedented characteristics and multiple functionalities. The operation voltages are very low and the aperture is large. Moreover, the device operates with a very simple voltage control scheme and it is lightweight and compact. Apart from the demonstrated functionalities, the proposed technique could open further venues of research in optical phase spatial modulation formats based on electro-optical materials.
Materials science and engineering
liquid crystals; optoelectronic devices and components