Designs of plasmonic metamasks for photopatterning molecular orientations in liquid crystals


Aligning liquid crystal (LC) molecules into spatially non-uniform orientation patterns is central to the functionalities of many emerging LC devices. Recently, we developed a new projection photopatterning technique by using plasmonic metamasks (PMMs), and demonstrated high-resolution and high-throughput patterning of molecular orientations into arbitrary patterns. Here we present comparisons between two different types of metamask designs: one based on curvilinear nanoslits in metal films; the other based on rectangular nanoapertures in metal films. By using numerical simulations and experimental studies, we show that the PMMs based on curvilinear nanoslits exhibit advantages in their broadband and high optical transmission, while face challenges in mask designing for arbitrary molecular orientations. In contrast, the PMMs based on nanoapertures, though limited in optical transmission, present the great advantage of allowing for patterning arbitrary molecular orientation fields.

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