Abstract

Liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are invaluable for a variety of optical applications, including the encoding of programmable diffractive optical elements. The pixel structure in these devices produces a set of diffracted orders of which the central order is the strongest. In most devices that we have examined, the intensity distribution of the diffraction pattern is independent of the wavelength of the illuminating light. Recently we have been examining the performance of LCDs having very small pixel sizes. We compare results for two devices from the same manufacturer. One of them exhibits the normal behavior. For the other, we find surprisingly strong wavelength dependence. The diffraction pattern varies from having most of the energy in the zero order for long wavelengths to having the energy distributed among 5060 orders as the wavelength decreases. We attribute this behavior to a phase structure over each pixel. We analyze this behavior using a simple two-dimensional model that qualitatively explains the phenomenon. These results can be viewed in two ways—on the positive side this behavior might lead to optical logic or fan-out applications. On the negative side, there is less intensity available in the normally used zero order.

© 2008 Optical Society of America

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