Optical vector field rotation and switching with near-unity transmission by fully developed chiral photonic crystals

Chun Wei Chen, Iam Choon Khoo

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11 Scopus citations


State-of-the-art nanostructured chiral photonic crystals (CPCs), metamaterials, and metasurfaces have shown giant optical rotatory power but are generally passive and beset with large optical losses and with inadequate performance due to limited size/interaction length and narrow operation bandwidth. In this work, we demonstrate by detailed theoretical modeling and experiments that a fully developed CPC, one for which the number of unit cells N is high enough that it acquires the full potentials of an ideal (N → ∞) crystal, will overcome the aforementioned limitations, leading to a new generation of versatile high-performance polarization manipulation optics. Such high-N CPCs are realized by field-assisted self-assembly of cholesteric liquid crystals to unprecedented thicknesses not possible with any other means. Characterization studies show that high-N CPCs exhibit broad transmission maxima accompanied by giant rotatory power, thereby enabling large (>π) polarization rotation with near-unity transmission over a large operation bandwidth. Polarization rotation is demonstrated to be independent of input polarization orientation and applies equally well on continuous-wave or ultrafast (picosecond to femtosecond) pulsed lasers of simple or complex (radial, azimuthal) vector fields. Liquid crystal-based CPCs also allow very wide tuning of the operation spectral range and dynamic polarization switching and control possibilities by virtue of several stimuli-induced index or birefringence changing mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2021304118
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 20 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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