Abstract

In this paper we demonstrate a liquid optical switch based on total internal reflection. Two indium tin oxide electrodes are fabricated on the bottom substrate. A conductive liquid (Liquid 1) is placed on one side of the chamber and surrounded by a density-matched silicone oil (Liquid 2). In initial state, when the light beam illuminates the interface of the two liquids, it just meets the conditions of total internal reflection. The light is totally reflected by Liquid 2, and the device shows light-off state. When we apply a voltage to the other side of the indium tin oxide electrode, Liquid 1 stretched towards this side of the substrate and the curvature of the liquid–liquid interface changes. The light beam is refracted by Liquid 1 and the device shows light-on state. So the device can achieve the functions of an optical switch. Because the light beam can be totally reflected by the liquid, the device can attain 100% light intensity attenuation. Our experiments show that the response time from light-on (off) to light-off (on) are 130 and 132 ms, respectively. The proposed optical switch has potential applications in variable optical attenuators, information displays, and light shutters.

© 2015 Optical Society of America

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