POB FOTECH-1

Project

Electrically-driven waveguiding systems in LC:PDMS structures

Description

The aim of the project is to develop a new class of easily tunable electrically-controlled waveguide optofluidic systems in the form of microchannels fabricated in PDMS material and infiltrated with liquid crystal (hereinafter referred to as LC:PDMS structures). Initial work on such structures has been carried out during realization of the recently completed NCN OPUS project “Integrated optic systems in new structures and liquid crystalline materials”, led by K. Rutkowska. Novelty of the solution proposed in the project results not only from the replacement of isotropic liquids (which are commonly used in optofluidics) with anisotropic ones (i.e. liquid crystals), but foremost from the application of the electrodes in the form of microchannels (with a specific, also complex, geometry) filled with metal/metal alloy in the liquid state. This ensures that the electrodes can be placed in the direct vicinity of the liquid crystalline waveguiding channels, allowing thus for a relatively simple and dynamic change of the propagation properties of the analyzed photonic system. Intended research plan includes: design of selected microfluidic systems and selection of appropriate liquid crystalline materials; determination of the way in which the liquid crystal molecules are aligned on the PDMS surface and ordered within the microchannels in this material; fabrication of LC:PDMS structures with electrodes and their integration with existing photonic systems; experimental demonstrations showing the possibility of using the structures for electrically-tuned and -controlled waveguiding optofluidic systems; final tests and optimization of materials, structures and proposed demonstrators of liquid crystalline waveguiding systems of the new type in terms of their functionalities. The selection of the components for proposed waveguide systems is due to the long-term experience of the principle investigators in this area and due to the research facilities available. The interdisciplinary nature of the project itself, as well as of the team implementing it, in addition to the access to the high-class Cezamat laboratories, guarantees fabrication of the unique liquid crystalline microstructures of the high quality. In addition, it allows for setting new, wider limits of applicability and reconfigurability of the optofluidic systems with potential application in waveguiding systems. It can be assumed that the results obtained within this research project may be interesting to a wider scientific audience (which in turn may result in establishing of the international cooperation) due to its contribution to the development of technologically advanced optofluidic devices and liquid crystalline photonic circuits. The obtained results allow to broaden the scope of functionality of the structures, including redefined guidelines for new potential optical elements and sensing systems based on polymers and liquid crystals, which will allow application for next research project to be submitted.

Funding

Warsaw University of Technology, POB FOTECH-1

Leader

Faculty of Physics, WUT

Partners

Warsaw University of Technology – Centre for Advanced Materials and Technologies CEZAMAT

Implementation period

07.2020 – 12.2021

Project value

149 500,00 pln

Project Manager

  • Katarzyna Rutkowska, Associate Professor at WUT
  • Marcin Juchniewicz, PhD Eng. – on behalf of CEZAMAT
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