Abstract

We present a compact optical polarization-splitting common-path interferometer based on a zero-twist liquid crystal display (LCD). The LCD is encoded with a diffraction grating pattern and illuminated with a polarization state with both horizontal and vertical components. The polarization component perpendicular to the director axis of the liquid crystal molecules is not affected by the LCD and forms the reference beam. However, the polarization component parallel to the director axis is diffracted at an angle determined by the period of the grating. By imposing an analyzer polarizer, these two beams create an interferogram that can either display retardance patterns encoded onto the LCD or analyze external birefringent optical elements. The programmability of the system allows new ways of increasing the utility of the interferograms. Experimental results are provided, including the visualization of optical vortices with different and opposite topological charges.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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