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Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals for Nonlinear Optics: can we Really do It?

  • David M. Walba (a1), Daniel J. Dyer (a1), Peter L. Cobben (a1), Teresa Sierra (a1), James A. Rego (a1), Charles A. Liberko (a1), Renfan Shao (a2) and Noel A. Clark (a2)...

Abstract

Ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) are true liquids with a thermodynamically stable polar structure. Furthermore, in some systems excellent polar stereocontrol has been demonstrated (> 80% of the molecular dipole oriented along the polar axis with infinite “thermal stability”). These properties make FLCs an interesting candidate for second order NLO applications. However, until now the orientation of organic functional arrays with “large β”, typified by the disperse red 1 (DRI) chromophore, has not been demonstrated.

Herein we report the initial results of a study directed towards providing a solution to this problem. Specifically, a new FLC dopant wherein the DRI chromophore (p-nitro-p'-dialkyl-aminoazobenzene unit) is oriented along the polar axis in FLC mixtures up to 30% by weight is described. These results suggest that it will be possible to obtain FLCs with good stereocontrolled orientation of large β functional arrays. Given that hybrid VLSI silicon/FLC optical chips are under intense investigation as micro-displays, and manufacturing issues for this class of devices are being addressed in the display context, the materials presented here suggest VLSI/FLC chips may be useful as high speed electro-optic modulators as well.

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1. This paper is number 20 in the series: Design and Synthesis of New Ferroelectric Liquid Crystals. For previous papers in the series see: Dyer, D. J. and Walba, D. M., Chem. Mater., 6, 10961098 (1994) and references therein.
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6. Kobayashi, S., Ishibashi, S. and Tsuru, S., Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. Letters, 7, 105110 (1990).
7. (a) Walba, D. M., Ros, M. B., Clark, N. A., Shao, R., Johnson, K. M., Robinson, M. G., Liu, J. Y. and Doroski, D., in Materials for Nonlinear Optics: Chemical Perspectives, edited by Stucky, G. D. (American Chemical Society, Washington, DC, 1991), pp. 484496. (b) D. M. Walba, M. B. Ros, N. A. Clark, R. Shao, M. G. Robinson, J.-Y. Liu, K. M. Johnson and D. Doroski, J. Am. Chem. Soc., 113, 5471–5474 (1991), and references therein.
8. Walba, D. M., Zummach, D. A., Wand, M. D., Thurmes, W. N., More, K. M. and Arnett, K. E., lrdquo;Synthesis of Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Oligomer Glasses for Second Order Nonlinear Optics,” in Liquid Crystal Materials. Devices. and Applications II, Wand, M. D. and Efron, U., Editors, Proc. SPIE 1911, 2128 (1993).
9. All new compounds reported herein showed consistent 1H and 13C NMR spectra and mass spectra, and gave satisfactory combustion analyses.
10. Details of the measurement of the electro-optic coefficient of compound 2, denoted W399, are provided in the publication of K.E. Arnett et al. in this volume.
11. Walba, D. M., Ros, M. B., Sierra, T., Rego, J. A., Clark, N. A., Shao, R., Wand, M. D., Vohra, R. T., Arnett, K. E. and Velsco, S. P., Ferroelectrics, 121, 247257 (1991).
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13. For an especially interesting example see: Ikeda, T., Sasaki, T. and Ichimura, K., Nature, 361, 428430 (1993).
14. Baena, M. J., Barberd, J., Espinet, P., Ezcurra, A., Ros, M. B. and Serrano, J. L., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 116, 18991906 (1994). See also the paper in this issue by M.B. Ros et al.

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