Abstract

The finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) method is used to compute propagation of light through textured uniaxial nematic-liquid crystal (NLC) films containing various types of twist disclination (defect) lines. Computational modeling by the FDTD method provides an accurate prediction of the optical response in multidimensional and multiscale heterogeneities in NLC films in which significant spatial optic axis gradients are present. The computations based on the FDTD method are compared with those of the classic Berreman matrix-type method. As expected, significant deviations between predictions from the two methods are observed near the twist disclination line defects because lateral optic axis gradients are ignored in the matrix Berreman method. It is shown that the failure of Berreman’s method to take into account lateral optic axis gradient effects leads to significant deviations in optical output. In addition, it is shown that the FDTD method is able to distinguish clearly different types of twist disclination lines. The FDTD optical simulation method can be used for understanding fundamental relationships between optical response and complex NLC defect textures in new liquid-crystal applications including liquid-crystal-based biosensors and rheo-optical characterization of flowing liquid crystals.

© 2005 Optical Society of America

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