Abstract

The concept of a liquid crystal wedge as a tunable angular shearing interferometer is introduced and demonstrated to combine both high stability and high tunability. Different wedges are fabricated from planar aligned nematic liquid crystal cells with thickness gradients. These wedges are shown to produce stable interferograms from the polarization interference between the ordinary and extraordinary waves propagating in different directions at the output of the cell. The fringe periods, ranging from 70 μm to 1.25 mm, can be precisely controlled by a low voltage. Despite the wedge-shaped structure, no inhomogeneity has been detected when the wedge is driven adiabatically and the interferograms are uniform over regions as large as 5×5  mm. Moreover, dynamical measurements show that the wedges behave as a succession of multiple cells with different thickness, giving rise to a moving front of stabilizing fringes when driven dynamically. All the observations show that the device is suitable for large beam size and tunable shearing interferometry, with attractive features for applications such as phase sensing, photoalignment or photolithography.

© 2017 Optical Society of America

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