Abstract

We demonstrate a polarization-independent tunable optical filter based on switchable polarization gratings (PGs) formed using reactive and nonreactive liquid crystals (LCs). PGs are anisotropic diffraction gratings that exhibit unique properties, including a zero-order transmittance that is independent of incident polarization and that can vary from 0% to 100%, depending on wavelength and applied voltage. A stack of several PGs of varying thicknesses combined with an elemental angle filter yields polarization-independent bandpass tuning with minimal loss. We introduce a novel hybrid PG consisting of both reactive and nonreactive LC layers, which allows very thick gratings to be created with thin active LC layers. We demonstrate a tunable optical filter with a peak transmittance of 84% of unpolarized light, a minimum full width at half-maximum of 64nm, and a maximum tuning range of 140nm.

© 2010 Optical Society of America

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