A procedure is described for the synthesis of electro-optic shutters having arbitrarily prescribed characteristics of transmittance vs voltage. The procedure is an adaptation of the birefringent-network-synthesis procedure of Harris et al. The synthesized shutter consists of n identical cascaded cells between an input and output polarizer. The synthesis procedure prescribes the angles to which the cells should be rotated and the angle of the output polarizer. Although it is assumed in this paper that each cell contains a Kerr-effect material, the synthesis procedure is equally applicable if each cell utilizes the Pockels effect. The technique of this paper is of possible use in many situations where standard Kerr-cell (or Pockels-cell) shutters are now employed. By controlling the shutter’s transmission vs voltage characteristic, we are able to control the shape and duration of the transmitted optical pulse independently of the form of the applied voltage pulse. Thus by this procedure the duration of the optical pulse resulting from a given applied voltage pulse can be reduced. Possible applications are briefly discussed in the areas of high-speed photography and Q switching of lasers.
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