Boulder Nonlinear Systems (BNS) has been designing and manufacturing diffractive non-mechanical beam steering devices for over a decade, primarily through the development of liquid crystal devices. Depending on the application, these devices are typically divided into three (3) categories:

Fine Angle Beam Steering

Fine angle non-mechanical beam steering can be accomplished using Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) Optical Phased Array (OPA) devices. These reflective devices can use a unique backplane with a linear (one dimensional) array of tens of thousands of long thin electrodes. By varying the refractive index of the liquid crystal above each electrode, one can produce a diffractive phase grating. The resulting device can be thought of as a programmable prism, capable of non-mechanical laser beam steering. Read more >

Large Angle Beam Steering

Large angle non-mechanical beam steering can be accomplished using our Liquid Crystal Polarization Gratings (LCPGs). These transmissive devices possess a continuous periodic birefringence profile that possess several compelling properties. These properties, which have been experimentally realized, include greater than 99% diffraction efficiency into a single order, high polarization sensitivity, and very low scattering. Light may be directed into either of the first diffraction orders by modifying the circular polarization handedness of the incident light. Additionally, these transmissive devices can be stacked with handedness switches (liquid crystal variable retarders, for example) in between them to achieve multiple electrically-selectable steering angles. Read more >

Multi-spot Beam Steering

BNS spatial light modulator (SLM) technology can display a computer-generated phase hologram that splits a single incident collimated laser beam into several separate output beams. This hologram can be written such that each individual output beam can have individually specified characteristics arranged in arbitrary three-dimensional configurations. By changing the hologram, which is updated by the SLM in real-time, the output beams can be moved in lateral and axial dimensions arbitrarily. Read more >

Images of a multi-stage beam steering system. Liquid crystal polarization gratings (left) used to successfully demonstrate beam control and imaging over an 80°×80° field of regard (FOR) with a 5 cm aperture at 1550nm and <10 ms switching time. Spatial light modulators provided the fine beam control with 0.01 micro-radian resolution over a 1° fine-control FOR. System provides random access within the FOR.
Click here for papers on Beam Steering