The polarization properties of a nematic zero-twist liquid-crystal (NLC) spatial light modulator (SLM) were studied. A large ratio between the liquid-crystal (LC) layer thickness and the pixel pitch combined with spatial variations in the applied electric field causes fringing fields between pixels. Depending on the LC alignment, the electric field components within the LC layer can result in a twist deformation. The produced inhomogeneous optical anisotropy affects the polarization of light propagating through the device. We experimentally examined polarization effects in different diffraction orders for both binary and blazed phase gratings. Simulations of the LC deformation together with finite-difference time-domain simulations for the optical propagation were used to calculate the corresponding far-field intensities. It was demonstrated how rigorous simulations of the NLC SLM properties can be used to understand the polarization features of different diffraction orders.
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Appl. Opt. 40(34) 6252-6259 (2001)
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