Fast Electroclinic Polarization Controller

Period of Performance: 05/05/1999 - 05/05/2001

$744K

Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Licom Technologies, Inc.
200 Innovation Blvd.
State College, PA 16803
Principal Investigator

Abstract

This proposal outlines the efforts to develop a high-speed optical polarization controller utilizing the electrically controllable linear polarization rotator technology developed in our Phase I BMDO contract. This technology will be extended to produce an arbitrary polarization controller that uses chiral smectic-A liquid crystals in a multistage stacked configuration. Smectic liquid crystal-based devices represent a significant technical advancement, and have the potential to form a whole new class of liquid crystal devices exhibiting unprecedented speeds. The technology developed will possess the capability to transform any polarization state of light into any other state with speeds at least 1000 times faster than any currently available technology. The concept will be tested by constructing a prototype device with targeted applications for military markets, and a prototype optical system targeted at commercial markets in preparation for the Phase III commercialization efforts. These devices will be designed with the goal of developing 1) systems that control polarization mode dispersion (PMD) in fiber optic networks; and 2) devices that provide polarization imaging capabilities for military and commercial applications. This breakthrough technology will result in commercially significant products for use in both the optical communications and the military markets.