Abstract

An electrically tunable infrared (IR) filter based on the liquid crystal (LC) Fabry–Perot (FP) key structure, which works in the wavelength range from 5.5 to 12 μm, is designed and fabricated successfully. Both planar reflective mirrors with a very high reflectivity of 95%, which are shaped by depositing a layer of aluminum (Al) film over one side of a double-sided polished zinc selenide wafer, are coupled into a dual-mirror FP cavity. The LC materials are filled into the FP cavity with a thickness of 7.5μm for constructing the LC–FP filter, which is a typical type of sandwich architecture. The top and bottom mirrors of the FP cavity are further coated by an alignment layer with a thickness of 100nm over Al film. The formed alignment layer is rubbed strongly to shape relatively deep V-grooves to anchor LC molecules effectively. Common optical tests show some particular properties; for instance, the existing three transmission peaks in the measured wavelength range, the minimum full width at half-maximum being 120nm, and the maximum adjustment extent of the imaging wavelength being 500nm through applying the voltage driving signal with a root mean square (RMS) value ranging from 0 to 19.8V. The experiment results are consistent with the simulation, according to our model setup. The spectral images obtained in the long-wavelength IR range, through the LC–FP device driven by the voltage signal with a different RMS value, demonstrates the prospect of the realization of smart spectral imaging and further integrating the LC–FP filter with IR focal plane arrays. The developed LC–FP filters show some advantages, such as electrically tunable imaging wavelength, very high structural and photoelectronic response stability, small size and low power consumption, and a very high filling factor of more than 95% compared with common MEMS–FP spectral imaging approaches.

© 2014 Optical Society of America

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