Liquid microlenses and waveguides from bulk nematic birefringent profiles


We demonstrate polarization-selective microlensing and waveguiding of laser beams by birefringent profiles in bulk nematic fluids using numerical modelling. Specifically, we show that radial escaped nematic director profiles with negative birefringence focus and guide light with radial polarization, whereas the opposite – azimuthal – polarization passes through unaffected. A converging lens is realized in a nematic with negative birefringence, and a diverging lens in a positive birefringence material. Tuning of such single-liquid lenses by an external low-frequency electric field and by adjusting the profile and intensity of the beam itself is demonstrated, combining external control with intrinsic self-adaptive focusing. Escaped radial profiles of birefringence are shown to act as single-liquid waveguides with a single distinct eigenmode and low attenuation. Finally, this work is an approach towards creating liquid photonic elements for all-soft matter photonics.

Optics Express