Liquid Crystal Optics for High Power Lasers
 
Summaries of Selected Research Activities:
Liquid Crystal Optics for High Power Lasers
Laser Damage Resistant MLD Gratings
Polymer Cholestric Liquid
Crystal Flakes
Optical Polishing Pitch
Bound Abrasive Polishers
Magnetorheological Finishing (MRF)
MRF of KDP
MRF of Sapphire
MRF of Optical Polymers
MRF of CVD ZnS
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OMEGA

The 60 beam OMEGA laser has 300 liquid crystal optical elements located throughout the IR portion of the system. These precision optics are manufactured entirely in-house within the Optics Manufacturing (OMAN) group in dedicated clean rooms. There are two component types: liquid crystal circular polarizers (LCP), and liquid crystal waveplates (LCW). Both are manufactured in apertures of 100 mm to 200 mm.

LCP's provide back-reflection protection for the IR portion of the laser system. An LCP consists of a ~18 µm thick chiral nematic fluid layer, tuned to exhibit selective reflection of left handed circularly polarized light at a wavelength of 1054 nm, and sandwiched between two optical quality, AR coated glass flats. Once installed in a beam line, an LCP resets the polarization contrast of the transmitted laser beam to ~500:1. It cleans up the quality of the beam polarization, removing the effects of residual stress-birefringence from laser amplifier glass and other optics. Each LCP also acts as an optical diode, or optical isolator. Laser radiation, back reflected from misaligned surfaces in the beam path, is blocked from propagating back up the beam line.

assembly

tacking

testing inspection

200 mm lcw

LCW's are nematic fluids whose birefringence and fluid layer thickness have been precisely adjusted for either a quarter-wave or a half-wave in retardance at 1054 nm. Elements are located in areas of the system where the laser beam linear polarization requires reorientation for beam splitting, or they are used to convert between linear and circular polarization for propagation through laser rod amplifiers.

Areas of research include laser interactions with liquid crystals, design and synthesis of laser damage resistant liquid crystal compounds, and alignment of liquid crystals.

E. M. Korenic, S. D. Jacobs, J. K. Houghton, A. Schmid, and F. Kreuzer, "Nematic Polymer Liquid-Crystal Wave Plate for High-Power Lasers at 1054 nm," Appl. Opt. 33, 1889-1899 (1994).

A. Schmid, S. Papernov, Z.-W. Li, K. Marshall, T. Gunderman, J.-C. Lee, M. Guardalben, and S. D. Jacobs, "Liquid-Crystal Materials for High Peak-Power Laser Applications," Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 207, 33-42 (1991).

J.-C. Lee, A. Schmid, and S. D. Jacobs, "Effects of Anchoring Under Intense Optical Fields in a Cholesteric Liquid Crystal," Mol. Cryst. & Liq. Cryst. 166, 253-265 (1989).

S. D. Jacobs, K. A. Cerqua, K. L. Marshall, A. Schmid, M. J. Guardalben, and K. J. Skerrett, "Liquid-Crystal Laser Optics: Design, Fabrication, and Performance,"J. Opt. Soc. Am. B 5, 1962-1979 (1988).

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