Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) is the world leader in developing advanced liquid crystal based devices and systems to control light. Specifically, BNS specializes in two core technologies: liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) spatial light modulators (SLMs) and liquid crystal polarization gratings (LCPGs).

Fast flexible shaping of phase and amplitude with SLMs

Since 1988, BNS has been advancing the state-of-the-art in liquid crystal on silicon (LCoS) spatial light modulator (SLM) technology, which uses an array of independent liquid crystal pixels to shape an incident wavefront. These devices are used to modulate a beam of light in order to add information to it, often in ways that shape, correct, and/or steer it.

BNS can develop custom LCoS SLM devices and systems with a range of leading capabilities:

  • Phase-only, amplitude-only, or combined phase and amplitude modulation in a single SLM
  • Unique modulators, such as polarization independent and achromatic phase modulating SLMs
  • Fast switching speeds: ≤ 1 kHz for nematic SLMs and 2 kHz for ferroelectric SLMs
  • Mirrored backplanes providing 100% effective fill factor for reduced diffractive losses
  • Sub-millisecond addressing to suppress phase ripple for higher efficiency
  • Low latency 16-bit PCIe drivers for fast and accurate control
  • Large format backplanes with millions of pixels

BNS has incorporated many of these benefits into a standard product line of industry-leading SLMs that are sold through Meadowlark Optics, Inc.

More information on BNS SLM technology can be found here.

More information on applications for BNS SLM technology can be found here.

Beam steering and switchable optics with LCPGs

In 2007, BNS began a successful collaboration with North Carolina State University to develop liquid crystal polarization grating (LCPG) switches for non-mechanical wide-angle beam steering. BNS now has a patent pending and exclusive rights for application of these gratings in a beam steering field of use. Passive LCPGs possess a permanent, continuously varying periodic polarization pattern.

These transmissive gratings efficiently (> 99.8%) diffract circularly polarized light to either the first positive or negative order, based on the handedness of the incident light. By incorporating fast electro-optic half-wave polarization retarders to control the handedness of polarization, BNS can create fast switchable optics with vastly superior size, weight, and power requirements compared to their mechanical counterparts.

BNS can develop custom LCPG devices and systems with a range of leading capabilities:

  • Wide-angle beam steering > 100°
  • Switchable diffractive lenses
  • Sub-millisecond switching times
  • Random access beam steering
  • Broadband operation

More information on BNS LCPG technology can be found here.

More information on applications for BNS LCPG technology can be found here.

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