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Two-Dimensional Silicon/Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Spatial Light Modulators

  • Timothy J. Drabik (a1)


Spatial light modulator (SLM) technology based on commodity silicon fabrication processes and employing a thin, ferroelectric liquid crystal light modulating layer at the chip's surface, has advanced to the point of producing high-performance, practically useful devices. Electrically addressed display devices with 256 × 256 resolution, 100: 1 contrast, and 10 kHz frame rate, as well as optically addressed, “smart” SLMs that perform spatio-temporal filtering on images, have resulted in the course of the author's involvement with Displaytech, Inc.

The silicon technology infrastructure is a juggernaut that produces regular and significant advances in capability. An optoelectronics technology based on foundry silicon can exploit these advances directly and realize rapid improvements. The gains in the density, speed, and optical performance of the Si/FLC devices presented here, illustrate this perspective.

The favorable speed-power performance of these devices is due to an excellent match in the “terminal characteristics” of FLC materials with those of fine-line MOSFETs. The impact of these characteristics on overall device performance is discussed in some depth.



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[1] Appl. Opt., Special Issue on Spatial Light Modulators (Esener, S., Horner, J., and Johnson, K., eds.) 31 (20), (1992).
[2] Clark, N. A. and Handschy, M. A., “Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Electro-Optics Using the Surface Stabilized Structure,” Mol. Cryst. Liq. Cryst. 94, 213234 (1983).
[3] Displaytech, Inc., 2200 Central Avenue, Boulder, CO 80301.
[4] Black Forest Engineering, 12930 Morris Trail, Colorado Springs, CO 80962–2083.
[5] Cotter, L. K., Drabik, T. J., Dillon, R. J., and Handschy, M. A., “Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal/Silicon Integrated Circuit, Spatial Light Modulator,” Opt. Lett. 15, 291293 (1990).
[6] Handschy, M. A., Chase, H., Cotter, L. K., Cunningham, J. D., Pattee, A. M., Drabik, T.J., and Gaalema, S. D. in Optical Pattern Recognition V, edited by Casasent, D. P. and Chao, T.-H. (SPIE Proc. 2237, Bellingham, WA, 1994) pp. 432438.
[7] Drabik, T. J., Titus, A., Handschy, M. A., Banas, D. Gaalema, S. D., and Ward, D. J., “2-D Silicon/Ferroelectric Liquid Crystal Spatial Light Modulators,” to appear in IEEE MICRO (1995).
[8] Mead, C., Analog VLSI and Neural Systems. (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1989).
[9] Titus, A., Banas, D., Handschy, M. A., and Drabik, T. J., manuscript in preparation.
[10] Handschy, M. A., Drabik, T. J., Cotter, L. K., and Gaalema, S. D. in Optical and Digital GaAs Technologies for Signal-Processing Applications, edited by Bendett, M. P. (SPIE Proc. 1291, Bellingham, WA, 1990) pp. 158164.


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