Beam shaping of coherent laser beams is demonstrated using liquid crystal (LC) cells with optically patterned pixels. The twist angle of a nematic LC is locally set to either 0 or by an alignment layer prepared via exposure to polarized UV light. The two distinct pixel types induce either no polarization rotation or a polarization rotation, respectively, on a linearly polarized optical field. An LC device placed between polarizers functions as a binary transmission beam shaper with a highly improved damage threshold compared to metal beam shapers. Using a coumarin-based photoalignment layer, various devices have been fabricated and tested, with a measured single- shot nanosecond damage threshold higher than .
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