Polymer FLC NLO as a basis for an Integrated EO Device Technology

Period of Performance: 09/23/2003 - 03/23/2004


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Displaytech, Inc.
2200 Central Avenue
Boulder, CO 80301
Principal Investigator


The use of optics in telecommunications and signal processing has not reached its full potential in part because of a lack of generic technologies for the fabrication of low-cost, high performance integrated devices. Furthermore, future speed requirements are anticipated to exceed the capabilities of lithium niobate (today's benchmark commercial EO technology). Organic electro-optical (EO) and non-linear optical (NLO) materials, potential successors to lithium niobate, have made dramatic advances in recent years. Further advances in their electro-optic performance are being limited by the difficulty of fully poling materials that contain high densities of strong electric dipoles, and by the difficulty of maintaining the poled state long enough for practical commercial use. The demonstrated incorporation of chromophores into ferroelectric liquid crystals offers a natural solution to overcoming these limitations. In this Phase I SBIR we propose to begin development of a polymer FLC device technology possessing strong EO and NLO coefficients (e.g. for high speed modulation) that would be the basis for a family of future integrated electro-optic devices. The ultimate anticipated benefits include the development of a new electro-optic material that will surpass current organic competitors in EO strength and lifetime, and will surpass current commercial EO materials in EO performance, integrability, and low cost. Potential commercial applications in telecommunications include high-speed optical modulation (e.g. >40GHz), optical switching and routing, wavelength conversion for WDM, and amplification.