A Birefringent and Transparent Electrical Conductor

Authors

  • Kenneth D. Harris,

    Corresponding author
    1. NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2M9 (Canada)
    • NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2M9 (Canada).
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  • Andy C. van Popta,

    1. University of Alberta, Department of Electrical Engineering, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2V4 (Canada)
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  • Jeremy C. Sit,

    1. University of Alberta, Department of Electrical Engineering, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2V4 (Canada)
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  • Dirk J. Broer,

    1. Philips Research Laboratories, High Tech Campus 4, Eindhoven, 5656AE (The Netherlands)
    2. Department of Chemistry, Eindhoven University of Technology, Eindhoven, 5600MB (The Netherlands)
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  • Michael J. Brett

    1. NRC National Institute for Nanotechnology, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2M9 (Canada)
    2. Department of Electrical Engineering, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2V4 (Canada)
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  • The authors thank Dick K. G. de Boer and Leon Stofmeel for assistance with retardation measurements and Matthew M. Hawkeye for advice in modelling ellipsometry data. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Informatics Circle of Research Excellence, and Micralyne Inc. are acknowledged for financial support. Supporting Information is available online from Wiley InterScience or from the authors.

Abstract

We have developed a range of thin film coatings that are transparent in the visible, electrically conducting, adjustably birefringent and capable of aligning calamitic liquid crystals. The coatings were fabricated from indium tin oxide by oblique or glancing angle deposition, and a wide range of microstructures such as helices, chevrons, uniaxial posts and biaxial slabs were produced. Under many deposition conditions, these structures showed optical transmittance and electrical conductivity comparable to standard indium tin oxide, yet a strong form birefringence (Δn > 0.07 at 589 nm) was also measured. In addition, many coatings were found to be capable of aligning liquid crystals along a common director, leading us to conclude that the technology may be useful in liquid crystal displays and other lightwave applications.

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