Boulder Nonlinear Systems is a leader in research and development of custom light control solutions, with more than 25 years of experience in delivering practical devices and systems to government, academic and commercial partners.
This includes non-mechanical beam steering and modulation devices based on next-generation liquid crystal on silicon (LCOS) spatial light modulators and liquid crystal polarization gratings. With current support from the DoD, NASA, NSF and NIH, as well as contracts from industry leaders and prime defense contractors, we are a recognized leader in this area.


Our Focus

The BNS mission is to leverage our expertise in the control and manipulation of optical energy to develop devices and systems for a variety of research and industrial applications in the defense, biomedical, automotive, aerospace, and basic science fields.



BNS was founded in 1988 by Steve Serati. With a background in electrical engineering and liquid crystal optics, he began by building optical processors and phased array beamsteerers for LIDAR applications. Over the years, the company has gained a reputation for innovative research and development in optical systems and the projects have grown to include a wide range of leading edge optical components. Today, companies from all over the world, including Fortune 100 companies, call on us for our decades of experience in liquid crystal design and manufacturing.

In 2014, we successfully sold our standard commercial products group to Meadowlark Optics. This transition provided customers of BNS standard products with improved volume manufacturing capabilities and gave us an established partner for commercializing the new products that arise from our research and development.


Core Technology

BNS is the world leader in developing advanced liquid crystal based devices and systems to control light. We specialize in two core technologies:

  1. Liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) spatial light modulators (SLMs): BNS can develop SLMs with the highest frame rates and phase map accuracy available by using a variety of methods, such as custom liquid crystals, high-voltage backplanes, novel pixel addressing schemes, and low latency 16-bit drivers. Additionally, we have pioneered a number of unique modulation capabilities, such as polarization independent phase modulation, and can develop entire SLM-based systems and modules.
  2. Liquid crystal polarization gratings (LCPGs): BNS is also a pioneer of LCPG technology for non-mechanical beam steering and has been developing LCPG switchable optics, such as variable focus lenses. We hold the exclusive license for the application of LCPGs to beam steering, which can drastically reduce the size, weight, and power of beam steering assemblies while providing new capabilities like random access scanning.


Application Areas

BNS customers leverage our capabilities and experience to develop light control solutions in demanding applications across many disciplines. Our customers’ application areas include aerospace sensors and imagers, medical components, tools for fundamental biology, volumetric displays, data storage, basic science research, and defense systems. In addition to our work in these fields, BNS’s varied and multi-disciplinary team of dedicated scientists and engineers is always ready to tackle challenging new problems in novel areas.


Manufacturing Facilities

BNS’s liquid crystal devices are constructed in our state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Lafayette, Colorado. This advanced Class 10 clean room allows us to maintain the most demanding standards necessary for producing high-quality optical components.