Spatially periodic patterning of the anchoring condition of a nematic liquid crystal (NLC) within a polymer matrix via a patterned photopolymerization affords a novel and facile method to prepare electrically switchable diffraction gratings. UV irradiation through a photomask of two comonomers, with opposite tendencies to align the NLC and also with different reactivity ratios, leads to definition of areas with either homeotropic or planar alignment of the NLC. Photopolymerization-induced diffusion of the monomers accounts for the spatial distribution of the concentration of these monomers. The resulting diffraction gratings are switchable under low electric fields and possess structural stability offered by the polymer matrix.
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