We report a stressed liquid crystal (SLC) that produce a large shift in phase retardation at submillisecond speeds. The SLC consists of uniformly aligned micro-domains of a liquid crystal dispersed in a polymer structure. Mechanical stress produces uniform alignment, essentially eliminates light scattering, and substantially improves the electro-optic performance. A 22-μm-thick SLC film switches more than 2μm of phase retardation in less than 1ms. The system has a linear voltage response with essentially no hysteresis.
A liquid-crystal optical phased-array technology that uses stressed liquid crystals provides a new type of tip-tilt wavefront corrector. It demonstrates a very fast time response (10 kHz) and high beam-steering efficiency (similar to 91%). The new technology presented here will allow for a nonmechanical, high-speed correction with simple device construction.