Wavelength Independent Polarization Rotator with a Wide Field of View

Technology #30503

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Illustrations of the molecular arrangement for a nematic liquid crystal (NLC) and a twisted nematic liquid crystal (TNLC)
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Researchers
Florencio Hernandez, Ph.D.
David Hagan, Ph.D.
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John Miner
Assistant Director 407.882.1136
Patent Protection

Continuously variable, wavelength-independent polarization rotator

US Patent 6,476,966 B1

This patent represents the means, methods and apparatus for the creation of a device for rotating the polarization of linearly polarized IR, visible and UV light. The device consists of a transparent input window, a transparent output window with oriented surface coating and a twisted nematic liquid crystal sandwiched between them.

The polarization of light specifies the direction of the light wave’s electric field, perpendicular to the lights direction of travel. Controlling the polarization of light is useful in several applications, such as: controlling laser light intensity, optics, seismology and telecommunications. Polarization rotators are often used in liquid crystal displays and research laboratory. Existing polarization rotators typically only work within a specific, narrow wavelength range. This requires purchasing and switching half waveplates when different wavelengths of light are used. A further drawback is that most polarization rotators only transmit light if they fit the narrow angle range for the incident light. Outside of this angle range the percent of light transmitted through this elementdrops dramatically. After examining current polarizer technology it is clear to see the numerous ways this device improves upon them.

Technical Details

Scientists at UCF have developed a novel optical device for rotating the polarization of ultraviolet (UV), visible and infrared (IR) light. This device makes use of a twisted nematic liquid crystal sandwiched between an input window and a rotatable output window. Unlike current half waveplates, this can be used to continuously rotate polarized light at all wavelengths and through almost any angle. This method and technology is a drastic improvement over previous methods and could see use in IR, visible and UV spectroscopy for research and development, as well an energy attenuator. Due to the low cost, wide field of view, wavelength independence and high efficiency this device will see widespread applicability.

Benefits

  • Inexpensive, simple polarization rotator
  • Works over an extremely wide range of wavelengths
  • Functions independent of the angle of incident light

Applications

  • Companies working with or manufacturing IR, fluorescence or absorbance instruments
  • Polarizer, laser, and optics manufacturers