Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) is an emerging renewable nanomaterial that is
promising for many diverse applications. As a renewable material, NCC and its
derivatives have been widely studied, focusing on their biological, chemical, as
well as mechanical properties. The electro-optical properties of NCC, however,
remain relatively under explored. Birefringence is one of the important
properties that make the NCC very attractive for photonic applications. The
rode-like NCC fibers dispersed in certain solutions exhibit a specific preferred
orientation which depends on their electrical charge, physical dimensions and
the type of solutions used to disperse NCC fibers. In a recent study of
Kerr-effect in functionalized NCC solutions, we demonstrated that it is possible
to control the orientation of NCC fibers under an applied electric field.
NCC-based spatial light modulator devices were fabricated and characterized.
Results showed that the transmittance of the device can be controlled through
frequency modulation of the applied electric field. In this paper we present the
fabrication and electro-optical characterization of the device and discuss the
relevant properties of NCC and future approaches to optimize and improve their
characteristics and performance.