Optical manipulation and defect creation in a liquid crystal on a photoresponsive surface
AbstractLight-induced modulations of the refractive index and pattern formation are desirable to generate complex photonic structures via exposure to light. Here we show that local modulations of the effective refractive index and reconfigurable defects can be locally induced in a hybridized thin birefringent film of a nematic liquid crystal (LC) on a photoresponsive (generating photoinduced electric fields) iron doped lithium niobate surface via exposure to a focused laser beam. Samples were studied with a tailored imaging approach, which provided the ability to investigate these optically excited, field-induced responses on a microscopic level. Upon exposure with a focused laser beam, the fluent LC was expanded on the substrate's surface and localized field-induced defects were optically created. Both umbilic (central) and line defects were observed. The formation of field-induced umbilic defects was modeled in numerical simulations. In addition, line defects were experimentally studied. It was seen that line defects interconnected the centers of two central defects (field-induced defects, which were present at the upper and lower surfaces of the LC layer). In addition, line disclinations separating reverse tilt domains (caused by the inhomogeneous distribution of the photogenerated fields) were seen. These line disclinations were pinned to the central defects. By exposure with two adjacent focused laser beams two umbilic defects were created side by side and interconnected with a line defect (the line defects pinned to each umbilic defect were joined in a single defect line). An alternative technique is presented to field-induce promising photonic motives (microlenses, resonators, line defects) in a liquid crystalline, hybridized birefringent film on a microscopic scale by using a low-power laser (opposed to the high power necessary to induce optical Kerr responses in a neat LC).