Abstract

We show how to two dimensionally encode the polarization state of an incident light beam using a parallel-aligned liquid-crystal spatial light modulator (LCSLM). Each pixel of the LCSLM acts as a voltage-controlled wave plate and can be programmed over a 2π phase range at a wavelength of 514.5 nm. Techniques are reviewed for either rotating the major axis of elliptically polarized light or for converting an input linearly polarized beam into an arbitrary elliptically polarized beam. Experimental results are demonstrated in which we generate various two-dimensional spatial patterns of polarized light. Several potential applications are suggested. We also report an unexpected edge-enhancement effect that might be useful in image processing applications.

© 2000 Optical Society of America

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