Abstract

The feasibility of the use of modulation devices based on field-induced transient scattering in ferroelectric liquid crystals (LC) to replace mechanical choppers used in uncooled infrared-imaging systems was investigated. Devices fabricated with ITO-coated ZnSe substrates and a ferroelectric LC path length of 25 μm were able to modulate optical radiation by transient forward scattering at rates approaching 20 kHz. Through the use of a commercial arbitrary waveform generator and associated PC-based software, drive waveforms were developed that produced a variable, square-wave optical-modulation pattern by the extension of the duration of the scattering state to periods ranging from hundreds of microseconds to milliseconds. The ability of these extended-scattering-mode (ESM) devices to modulate radiation in both the visible and midinfrared regions was verified in a simple experiment through the use of a Fourier-transform infrared spectrometer, in which an unoptimized ESM device displayed a 40% modulation depth for IR radiation in the 8–12-μm region.

© 1995 Optical Society of America

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