Facebook Patent | Patterned anisotropic films and optical elements therewith

Patent: Patterned anisotropic films and optical elements therewith

Drawings: Click to check drawins

Publication Number: 20210033770

Publication Date: 20210204

Applicant: Facebook

Abstract

A first layer of anisotropic material extends along a first plane and includes anisotropic components being parallel to a second plane non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane. The anisotropic components are arranged in cycloidal or helical patterns. The cycloidal or helical patterns define one or more Bragg planes that are non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane and either substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the second plane.

Claims

  1. An optical element, comprising: a first layer of anisotropic material extending along a first plane and including cycloidal or helical patterns non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane, wherein the cycloidal or helical patterns of the anisotropic material define one or more Bragg planes that are either substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the cycloidal or helical patterns.

  2. The optical element of claim 1, wherein the optical element is one of: a grating, a lens, a beam splitter, a beam deflector, a disperser, a wavefront modifier, or an optical scanner.

  3. The optical element of claim 2, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material includes cycloidal patterns, the cycloidal patterns of the anisotropic material are substantially parallel to the one or more Bragg planes, and the optical element is a transmissive optical element.

  4. The optical element of claim 2, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material includes helical patterns, the helical patterns of the anisotropic material are substantially perpendicular to the one or more Bragg planes, and the optical element is a reflective optical element.

  5. The optical element of claim 2, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material includes a first region having a first cycloidal or helical pattern, the first pattern defining a first Bragg plane of the one or more Bragg planes for redirecting a first portion of first light to a first direction.

  6. The optical element of claim 5, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material also includes a second region, distinct from the first region, having a second cycloidal or helical pattern distinct from the first cycloidal or helical pattern, the second pattern defining a second Bragg plane, non-parallel to the first Bragg plane, of the one of more Bragg planes for redirecting a second portion, distinct from the first portion, of the first light to a second direction distinct from the first direction.

  7. The optical element of claim 6, wherein: the first portion of the first light and the second portion of the first light do not intersect with each other.

  8. The optical element of claim 6, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material also includes a third region, distinct from the first region and the second region, having a third cycloidal or helical pattern that corresponds to the first cycloidal or helical pattern, the third pattern defining a third Bragg plane, parallel to the first Bragg plane, of the one of more Bragg planes for redirecting a third portion, distinct from the first portion and the second portion, of the first light to the first direction.

  9. The optical element of claim 6, wherein: respective regions, of the first layer of anisotropic material have cycloidal or helical patterns for redirecting light impinging on the respective regions to intersect at a common focal point.

  10. The optical element of claim 9, wherein: the first region and the second region are located at a first distance from a first axis passing through a geometric center of the optical element; the first Bragg plane defined by the first region has a first angle relative to the first plane; and the second Bragg plane defined by the second region has the first angle relative to the first plane.

  11. The optical element of claim 9, wherein: the first region is at a first distance from a first axis passing through a geometric center of the optical element and being perpendicular to the first plane and the second region is at a second distance greater than the first distance from the first axis; and the first Bragg plane defined by the first region has a first angle relative to the first plane; and the second Bragg plane defined by the second region has a second angle, distinct from the first angle, relative to the first plane.

  12. The optical element of claim 9, wherein: the common focal point is located on a first axis passing through a geometric center of the optical element and being perpendicular to the first plane.

  13. The optical element of claim 9, wherein: the common focal point is located away from a first axis passing through a geometric center of the optical element and being perpendicular to the first plane.

  14. The optical element of claim 9, wherein: one or more regions, of the first layer of anisotropic material, having a first distance from a second axis perpendicular to the first plane have cycloidal or helical patterns for redirecting light impinging on the one or more regions having the first distance from the second axis to intersect at a first location on the second axis; and one or more regions, of the first layer of anisotropic material, having a second distance, distinct from the first distance, from the second axis have cycloidal or helical patterns for redirecting light impinging on the one or more regions having the second distance from the second axis to intersect at a second location distinct from the first location on the second axis.

  15. The optical element of claim 6, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material includes a plurality of regions with respective cycloidal or helical patterns, cycloidal or helical patterns of respective regions change continuously from cycloidal or helical patterns of adjacent regions, for modifying a wavefront of the first light.

  16. The optical element of claim 1, further including: a second layer of anisotropic material extending along the first plane and optically coupled with the first layer of anisotropic material, the second layer of anisotropic material including cycloidal or helical patterns non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane, wherein the cycloidal or helical patterns of the anisotropic material of the second layer of anisotropic material define one or more Bragg planes that that are either substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the one or more cycloidal or helical patterns of the second layer of anisotropic material.

  17. The optical element of claim 16, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material is for redirecting light having a first wavelength range while transmitting light having a second wavelength range distinct from the first wavelength range; and the second layer of anisotropic material is for redirecting the light having the second wavelength range while transmitting the light having the first wavelength range.

  18. The optical element of claim 16, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material is for redirecting light having a first polarization while transmitting light having a second polarization that is distinct from the first polarization; and the second layer of anisotropic material is for redirecting the light having the second polarization while transmitting the light having the first polarization.

  19. The optical element of claim 1, wherein: the first layer of anisotropic material includes a first portion and a second portion, distinct from and adjacent to, the first portion; and the anisotropic material in the first portion and the anisotropic material in the second portion have a corresponding alignment pattern.

  20. The optical element of claim 1, wherein: the optical element is operable in a plurality of states, including a first state and a second state distinct from the first state; the anisotropic material of the first layer have the cycloidal or helical patterns non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane while the optical element is in the first state; and the anisotropic material of the first layer does not have the cycloidal or helical patterns non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane while the optical element is in the second state.

Description

RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application is a continuation-in-part of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 16/273,068, filed Feb. 11, 2019, which claims the benefit of, and priority to, U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/659,104, filed Apr. 17, 2018 and U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 62/728,053, filed Sep. 6, 2018, all of which are incorporated by reference herein in their entireties.

TECHNICAL FIELD

[0002] This relates generally to optical elements, and in particular to anisotropic optical elements.

BACKGROUND

[0003] Polarization volume gratings have gained increasing interest for applications in optics, such as beam steering devices, waveguides, and display technologies.

[0004] Conventionally, polarization volume gratings were made by patterned alignment of liquid crystals (LC) or reactive mesogens (RM) as their polymerizable version using a photoalignment layer. In this case, the photoalignment layer includes elongated anisotropically absorbing molecular units (small molecules or fragments of polymeric molecules) arranged in a particular periodic pattern usually produced by holographic technique, and liquid crystal is deposited on the photoalignment layer so that the liquid crystal molecules are aligned along the local alignment direction of said molecular units in photoaligning layer. However, when the photoalignment layer is used, liquid crystals can be arranged in only certain three-dimensional configurations (e.g., liquid crystals having helical or cycloidal patterns perpendicular to a plane defined by the photoalignment layer).

SUMMARY

[0005] Polarization volume holographic (PVH) elements having anisotropic components (e.g., liquid crystals) arranged in helical or cycloidal patterns that are slanted with respect to a plane defined by the PVH element have properties that are not available for PVH elements made by conventional methods. In particular, a PVH element with anisotropic components arranged in slanted helical or cycloidal patterns have a high optical efficiency, high polarization-, angular-, and wavelength selectivity, and low polarization deviation. Such properties make them desirable for a variety of optical applications.

[0006] In accordance with some embodiments, a first layer of anisotropic material extends along a first plane and includes anisotropic components being parallel to a second plane non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane. The anisotropic components are arranged in cycloidal or helical patterns. The cycloidal or helical patterns define one or more Bragg planes that are non-parallel and non-perpendicular to the first plane and either substantially parallel or substantially perpendicular to the second plane.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0007] For a better understanding of the various described embodiments, reference should be made to the Description of Embodiments below, in conjunction with the following drawings in which like reference numerals refer to corresponding parts throughout the figures.

[0008] FIG. 1 illustrates interference patterns formed on a two-dimensional plane by polarized light.

[0009] FIG. 2A illustrates a non-slanted polarization volume grating obtained by alignment of liquid crystal with a photoaligning layer.

[0010] FIG. 2B illustrates a slanted polarization volume grating obtained by alignment of liquid crystal with a photoaligning layer with holographically induced cycloidal alignment patterns.

[0011] FIG. 3A is a schematic representation of the interference modes of two coherent beams having orthogonal circular polarizations depending on the convergence angle and polarization state of the beams.

[0012] FIG. 3B is a schematic representation of the interference modes of two coherent beams having the same circular polarization depending on the convergence angle and polarization state of the beams.

[0013] FIG. 4 illustrates patterns of linear polarizations generated by two plane waves of coherent light with circular polarization (upper row) and orientational structures induced in layer of optically recordable polarization sensitive material (bottom row). A: the two plane waves have orthogonal circular polarizations. B: the two plane waves have the same circular polarization.

[0014] FIG. 5A illustrates geometries for recording polarization volume gratings with beams impinging upon the recording material from the same side. FIG. 5B illustrates geometries for recording polarization volume gratings with beams impinging upon the recording material from opposite sides, where k.sub.1 and k.sub.2 are wave vectors of interfering beams, and k.sub.G is a grating vector.

[0015] FIG. 5C illustrates example geometries for recording polarization volume gratings with two beams.

[0016] FIG. 6A illustrates exemplary optical setup for making a polarization volume holographic element with two beams impinging on a same side of an optically recordable medium.

[0017] FIG. 6B illustrates exemplary optical setup for making a polarization volume holographic element with two beams impinging on opposite sides of an optically recordable medium.

[0018] FIG. 7 illustrates making an optical element by sectionally illuminating an optically recordable medium in accordance with some embodiments.

[0019] FIG. 8 illustrates a polarization volume holographic element including multiple layers of optically recordable material with different alignment patterns.

[0020] FIG. 9 illustrates a method of making a polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0021] FIG. 10A illustrates a transmissive polarization volume holographic element with slanted patterns in accordance with some embodiments.

[0022] FIG. 10B illustrates a reflective polarization volume holographic element with slanted patterns in accordance with some embodiments.

[0023] FIG. 10C illustrates Bragg planes of a transmissive PVH element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0024] FIG. 10D illustrates Bragg planes of a reflective PVH element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0025] FIG. 10E illustrates a reflective PVH element having non-parallel Bragg planes in accordance with some embodiments.

[0026] FIG. 10F illustrates a reflective PVH element having continuously curved Bragg planes in accordance with some embodiments.

[0027] FIG. 10G illustrates a reflective PVH element having a curved surface in accordance with some embodiments.

[0028] FIG. 11A illustrates operation of a transmissive polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0029] FIG. 11B illustrates operation of a reflective polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0030] FIG. 11C illustrates an operation of a stack of transmissive polarization volume hologram elements in accordance with some embodiments.

[0031] FIG. 11D illustrates different configurations of polarization volume holographic elements and their applications in accordance with some embodiments.

[0032] FIG. 12 illustrates a spherical polarization volume holographic lens in accordance with some embodiments.

[0033] FIG. 13 illustrates an aspherical polarization volume holographic lens in accordance with some embodiments.

[0034] FIG. 14 illustrates a polarization volume holographic axicon in accordance with some embodiments.

[0035] FIG. 15A illustrates operation of off-axis lenses in accordance with some embodiments.

[0036] FIG. 15B illustrates a transmissive polarization volume holographic off-axis lens in accordance with some embodiments.

[0037] FIG. 15C illustrates a reflective polarization volume holographic off-axis lens in accordance with some embodiments.

[0038] FIG. 16 illustrates a polarization volume holographic lens array in accordance with some embodiments.

[0039] FIGS. 17A-17B illustrate polarization volume holographic deflectors in accordance with some embodiments.

[0040] FIG. 17C illustrates polarization volume holographic deflector array in accordance with some embodiments.

[0041] FIGS. 18A-18B illustrate polarization volume holographic wavefront modifiers in accordance with some embodiments.

[0042] FIGS. 19A-19B illustrate operation of a tunable polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0043] These figures are not drawn to scale unless indicated otherwise.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

[0044] The present disclosure describes method for making spatial periodic orientational patterns, methods and devices for making optical elements from an optically recordable and polarization sensitive medium, which includes photocrosslinkable and photoalignable molecules or molecular fragments. The method includes concurrently illuminating the optically recordable medium with two coherent beams of light having same or different polarization properties. In some embodiments, a polarization volume holographic element is made by such methods and devices.

[0045] Holographic volume gratings (HVG) are diffractive elements including a periodic pattern of absorption or phase stretching throughout the entire volume of the element. Such a grating formed by interference pattern of light in an optical recordable material. Typically, such materials are optically isotropic photo-polymeric compositions in which the induced contrast of refractive index achieves 0.03-0.04. The diffraction efficiency of these gratings can be close to 100% if the Bragg condition is met, which in case of recording beams and testing beam with flat wave fronts has the form:

2N.LAMBDA. sin(.theta.+.phi.)=.lamda..sub.B

where N is a positive integer, .LAMBDA. is the grating period, .theta. is the incident angle of the testing beam (the angle between the incident beam and the normal of the entrance surface, n, .phi. is the angle between the normal and the grating vector k.sub.G, and .mu..sub.B is the wavelength of diffracted light. The light which does not match Bragg condition will pass through the grating without diffraction. This property determines high selectivity of wavelength, wave front and incidence angle of HVG, and large information capacity. Based on these features, the following applications of HVG has been developed: optical correlators, spectroscopy, distributed feedback lasers, fiber Bragg gratings, high density holographic data storage.

[0046] Achieving of the Bragg regime of a diffraction grating is usually determined by Klein parameter Q:

Q = 2 .pi..lamda. d n .LAMBDA. 2 , ##EQU00001##

where d is a thickness of the grating, .lamda. is the wavelength of light, .LAMBDA. is the grating period, and n is the refractive index of the recording medium. As a rule, Bragg property is achieved if Q>>1, typically, Q.gtoreq.10. Thus, to meet Bragg condition, thickness of diffraction grating should be higher than some value determined by parameters of grating, recording medium and light. Because of this, HVG is also called Bragg grating and thick grating. On the contrary, the grating with Q<1 is usually considered as a thin one, which typically demonstrates many diffraction orders (Raman-Nath diffraction regime).

[0047] When the above gratings are recorded in polarization insensitive materials, the resulting gratings are also polarization insensitive. Radically new properties can be achieved when recording gratings in the materials sensitive to polarization of light, which show effect of photoinduced anisotropy. In contrast to the above-mentioned photopolymers sensitive only to the intensity of recording light, these materials are sensitive to both light intensity and polarization. Under action of linearly polarized light, the anisotropic photosensitive units of these materials arrange in some preferential direction, usually perpendicular or parallel to polarization direction of light. This in turn results in optical birefringence and dichroism. Exposing these materials by interference pattern results in periodic orientational patterns having similar features. Noteworthy that despite the highest efficiency of photoalignment for linearly polarized light, this effect can also be observed for partially polarized and elliptically polarized light of a suitable spectrum.

[0048] Interference patterns for the case of two collimated beams of polarized light propagating in similar directions are presented in FIG. 1. In case of same linear or circular polarization of the beams, their interference results in intensity patterns while keeping polarization of interfering beams (cases A and B). The gratings recorded by these light patterns are usually called intensity gratings. In case of orthogonal linear polarizations or orthogonal circular polarizations of the beams, intensity modulation does not occur, but light polarization is patterned (cases C and D). These types of patterns do not induce grating in polarization insensitive materials. At the same time, in polarization sensitive materials, the patterns of light polarization induce modulation of optical axis due to photoalignment of anisotropic photosensitive units. The gratings induced by polarization patterns are usually called polarization gratings. Commonly, to create these gratings, geometry D in FIG. 1 is used, which provides pure modulation of linear polarization. These patterns are called cycloidal. Alignment of photosensitive units along or perpendicular to the local polarization of light will create similar orientational configuration which is also called herein cycloidal. The grating holographically inscribed in the layer of polarization sensitive material can be further enhanced by coating layer of liquid crystal (LC) or reactive mesogen as its polymerizable counterpart above the said layer with the recorded grating. LC mimics orientational patterns in the first layer and thus enhances overall thickness of the grating and thus grating efficiency. In the latter case, irradiated layer of polarization sensitive material plays a role of photoalignment layer for LC. This alignment procedure is known as a surface mediated photoalignment.

[0049] The polarization-sensitive counterparts of holographic volume gratings, so named polarization volume gratings (PVG) or more generally, polarization volume holograms (PVH) (e.g., PVH 200 and PVH 201 in FIGS. 2A and 2B, respectively), are usually created by the said photoalignment method (e.g., by using photoalignment layers 210 and 211 in FIGS. 2A and 2B, respectively). In case of chiral nematic LC, uniformly aligned by aligning substrates, Grandjean (planar) structure can be achieved, which can operate as an optical grating. The fringes of the formed gratings considered as the planes (e.g., Bragg planes 260 in FIG. 2A) with the same refractive index are parallel to the layer of recordable material, see FIG. 2A. If thickness of LC layer is set high enough and period of grating (half pitch of LC helix), the condition Q.gtoreq.10 is met and the grating can be considered as a thick one. To realize gratings with slanted fringes (e.g., Bragg planes 261 in FIG. 2B), chiral nematic LC is usually aligned on the photoaligning layer in which cycloidal patterns are recorded. In this case, tilt of the grating fringes occurs due to superposition of a cycloidal structure imposed by photoalignment layer and a helical structure intrinsic for cholesteric LCs, FIG. 2B. However, preparation procedure of polarization volume gratings based on surface mediated photoalignment of LCs has several shortcomings. First of all, the resulted gratings provide a limited number of alignment patterns and thus a limited set of optical responses. For example, LC molecules align in these gratings parallel to alignment surface so that chirality of LCs is needed to obtain slanted gratings. Furthermore, preparation procedure of these gratings is rather complicated and includes rather long chain of technological steps.

[0050] The other method to manufacture PVGs can be based on phenomenon of bulk mediated photoalignment, when photoalignment of photosensitive units occurs in a volume of optically recordable and polarization sensitive material. When irradiation is provided with holographically created polarization patterns of light, the alignment patterns occur immediately in the layer of optically recordable material. To achieve Bragg diffraction typical for volume gratings, this layer should be thick enough to attain Q>>1.

[0051] To analyze orientational patterns created by two interfering beams in a real three-dimensional (3D) space, 3D polarization patterns need to be considered, which might be created by these beams. According to theory, interference pattern of polarized light depends on polarization and convergence angle of interfering beams. In case of orthogonal circular polarizations of the beams the best conditions for the patterns of linear polarization are created when angle .THETA. between the beams is small) (.THETA..ltoreq.40.degree.). As the angle .PHI. increases, the resultant pattern starts to pick up more and more intensity variation and polarization ellipticity. The system picks up the ellipticity in a quadratic way, meaning it changes rather rapidly from linear to circular when .THETA. passes 45.degree.. When the angle further increases, the intensity of circularly polarized light becomes modulated and the highest contrast of this periodic circularly polarized intensity pattern is reached when .THETA.=180.degree..+-.20.degree., see FIG. 3A. When circular polarizations of interfering beams are the same, the situation is reversed. In case of small angle between the beams the conditions for high-contrast interference pattern of circular polarization are met, while the case .THETA.=180.degree..+-.20.degree. corresponds to highly efficient patterns of linear polarization, FIG. 3B.

[0052] Consider now characteristics of polarization patterns. The patterns created by two plane waves of coherent light in two geometries mentioned above are presented in FIG. 4. The following features can be distinguished.

(1) The generated pattern structures are one-dimensional. The lines of same polarization (fringes of light field) are aligned along bisectrix of the angle between the interfering beams. This means that polarization gratings recorded by these light patterns will also be one-dimensional with the same symmetry that distinguishes them from the gratings obtained by surface alignment of liquid crystals, which have more complicated structure and are essentially three-dimensional. (2) The structure of polarization patterns depends on geometry. In case of a small angle between the beams and their orthogonal polarizations, the light polarization axis rotates around bisectrix of the angle and simultaneously translates in perpendicular direction in the incidence plane of the beams. Since this movement obeys cycloidal law, the corresponding structure is usually called cycloidal. On the other hand, in case the angle between the beams is close to 180.degree., the light polarization axis rotates around the axis perpendicular to the bisectrix of the angle with translation in the same direction thus creating a helical structure.

[0053] The layer of optically recordable material placed in intersection area of interfering beams cuts out part of interference pattern, which induce corresponding pattern of polarization grating. FIG. 4 shows that orientation of the grating pattern in the layer depends on orientation of this layer in interference field during recording process and can be characterized by angle a varied in full range 0-360 degrees. It is evident that in contrast to structures created by aligned liquid crystals, which may combine cycloidal and helical order (see FIG. 2B), the structures created by bulk mediated holographic alignment may be either cycloidal or helical. The most efficient photoalignment of photosensitive units occurs in case of patterns of linear polarization, which are created in case of .THETA..ltoreq.40.degree. (orthogonal circular polarizations of recording beams) or .THETA.=180.degree..+-.20.degree. (same circular polarization). However, photoalignment effects occur even in case of elliptically polarized light with pronounced ellipticity so that the range of angles .THETA. acceptable for creation of orientational patterns in polarization sensitive recordable materials can be essentially broader; it can be considered as .THETA..ltoreq.90.degree. and .THETA.=180.degree..+-.45.degree. in case of orthogonal and same polarizations of the recording beams, respectively.

[0054] From practical viewpoint it is usually convenient to associate coordinate system with the recordable layer and consider interference patterns in terms of incident angles of the interfering beams. In this case, grating parameters for different exposure geometries can be estimated based on a theoretical model. For two circularly polarized plane waves with wave vectors k.sub.1 and k.sub.2 propagating in an x-z plane toward the same side of the optically recordable medium and impinge on the surface of this medium under angles .theta.1 and .theta.2, as shown in FIG. 5A, the interference equations can be described as follows:

k.sub.1=(sin .theta..sub.1, 0, cos .theta..sub.1) k.sub.2=(sin .theta..sub.2, 0, cos .theta..sub.2)

E.sub.1,local=(1, , i, 0) E.sub.2,local=(1, -i, 0) or (1, i, 0)

E.sub.1=(cos .theta..sub.1, i-sin .theta..sub.1) E.sub.2=(cos .theta..sub.2, -i, -sin .theta..sub.2) or (cos .theta..sub.2, i-sin .theta..sub.2)

Here E.sub.1,local and E.sub.2,local are the electric fields of light in the coordinates associated with ray directions k.sub.1 and k.sub.2, while E.sub.1 and E.sub.2 are the electric fields represented in global coordinate system associated with holographic layer. The formulas above show that electric field vectors E.sub.1,local (E.sub.1) and E.sub.2,local (E.sub.2) depend on handedness of circular polarization. The angles .theta. counted from surface normal direction are positive for counterclockwise rotation and negative for clockwise rotation. Then, the total electric field E.sub.total and the intensity I can be described with the following equations:

E total = E 1 e i 2 .pi. .lamda. ( x sin .theta. 1 + z cos .theta. 1 ) + E 2 e i 2 .pi. .lamda. ( x sin .theta. 2 + z cos .theta. 2 ) ##EQU00002## I = E 1 E 1 * + E 2 E 2 * + E 1 E 2 * e i 2 .pi. .lamda. [ x ( sin .theta. 1 – sin .theta. 2 ) + z ( cos .theta. 1 – cos .theta. 2 ) ] + E 2 E 1 * e i 2 .pi. .lamda. [ x ( – sin .theta. 1 + sin .theta. 2 ) + z ( – cos .theta. 1 + cos .theta. 2 ) ] ##EQU00002.2## where E 1 E 2 * = E 2 E 1 * = .-+. 1 + cos .theta. 1 cos .theta. 2 + sin .theta. 1 sin .theta. 2 = .-+. 1 + cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) ##EQU00002.3## I = E 1 E 1 * + E 2 E 2 * + 2 [ cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) .-+. 1 ] cos ( 2 .pi. .lamda. [ x ( sin .theta. 1 – sin .theta. 2 ) + z ( cos .theta. 1 – cos .theta. 2 ) ] ) = 2 + 2 + 2 [ cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) .-+. 1 ] cos [ 2 .pi. .lamda. [ x ( sin .theta. 1 – sin .theta. 2 ) + z ( cos .theta. 1 – cos .theta. 2 ) ] ) = 4 + 2 [ cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) .-+. 1 ] cos ( 2 .pi. .lamda. [ x ( sin .theta. 1 – sin .theta. 2 ) + z ( cos .theta. 1 – cos .theta. 2 ) ] ) ##EQU00002.4##

From these equations, the maximum and minimum intensity, I.sub.max and I.sub.min, and the visibility of the intensity fringes are as follows:

I.sub.min .varies. max=4+2 cos(.theta..sub.1-.theta..sub.2).-+.2

I.sub.max .varies. min=4+2 cos(.theta..sub.1-.theta..sub.2).+-.2 [0055] Intensity fringe visibility

[0055] V intensity = I min – I max I min + I max = 1 .-+. cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) 2 ##EQU00003##

[0056] The plus sign in the last formula corresponds to same circular polarization of interfering beams, while the minus sign corresponds to the orthogonal circular polarizations of the beams. The parameter V.sub.intensity shows how close the induced grating is to the ideal polarization grating (V.sub.intensity=0) or to the ideal intensity grating (V.sub.intensity=1).

[0057] Despite of unidimensional nature, the slanted gratings of this type show periodicity in both x and z directions associated with the film (FIGS. 5A and 5B). The fringe periods in the x direction and in the z direction, T.sub.x and T.sub.z, and the slope angle of fringes a (the angle between the normal of the entrance surface and fringes direction) are as follows:

T x = .lamda. sin .theta. 1 – sin .theta. 2 ##EQU00004## T z = .lamda. cos .theta. 1 – cos .theta. 2 ##EQU00004.2## tan .alpha. = T x / T z ##EQU00004.3##

[0058] For example, when .lamda.=360 nm, .theta..sub.1=5.degree. and angle .theta..sub.2=-45.degree. (FIG. 5C, case B), T.sub.x=0.46 .mu.m, T.sub.z=1.24 .mu.m, .alpha.=20.degree. and V.sub.intensity=0.17. Since the angle between the interfering beams is relatively large (.THETA.=50.degree.) the visibility parameter is noticeable. The calculations for .theta..sub.1=15.degree. and angle .theta..sub.2=45.degree. (FIG. 5C, case A) give T.sub.x=0.8 .mu.m, T.sub.z=1.38 .mu.m, and V.sub.intensity=0.07 are generated. The inclination angle of the fringes is .about.30.degree.. The low value of V.sub.intensity means that interference fringes are almost ideal polarization patterns. This agrees well with relatively small angle between the beams .THETA.=30.degree..

[0059] When .theta..sub.1=-.theta..sub.2, as shown by FIG. 5C, case C, T.sub.x, T.sub.z, and V.sub.intensity are as follows:

T.sub.x=.lamda./2 sin .theta.

T.sub.2.fwdarw..infin.

v.sub.intensity=0

.alpha.=0.

[0060] Thus, a polarization grating with a grating vector in the x-direction is formed (e.g., the fringes are perpendicular to the surface of the optically recordable medium).

[0061] For two beams propagating in an x-z plane toward the opposite sides of the optically recordable medium and impinging the opposite surfaces of the recording medium under angles .theta..sub.1 and .theta..sub.2 as shown in FIG. 3B, the visibility parameter is as follows:

V intensity = 1 .-+. cos ( .theta. 1 – .theta. 2 ) 2 ##EQU00005##

[0062] The plus sign in this formula corresponds to orthogonal circular polarizations of interfering beams, while the minus sign corresponds to the same circular polarizations of the beams. Same as above, the parameter V.sub.intensity shows how close the induced grating is to the ideal intensity grating (V.sub.intensity=1) or ideal polarization grating (V.sub.intensity=0).

[0063] The fringe periods in the x direction and in the z direction, T.sub.x and T.sub.z, and the slope angle of fringes .alpha. are as follows:

T x = .lamda. sin .theta. 1 + sin .theta. 2 ##EQU00006## T z = .lamda. cos .theta. 1 + cos .theta. 2 ##EQU00006.2## tan .alpha. = T z / T x ##EQU00006.3##

[0064] For example, when light having a wavelength .lamda. of 360 nm impinges on optically recordable medium at angle .theta..sub.1=5.degree. and angle .theta..sub.2=30.degree., fringes having T.sub.x=0.61 .mu.m, T.sub.z=0.19 .mu.m, V.sub.intensity=0.05 and .alpha.=17.degree. are generated. This means that practically pure polarization helical patterns are induced, which may induce similar orientational patterns in optically responding material.

[0065] When light having a wavelength .lamda. of 360 nm impinges on optically recordable medium at angle .theta..sub.1=-30.degree. and angle .theta..sub.2=10 (FIG. 5C, case E), fringes having T.sub.x=1.1 .mu.m, T.sub.z=0.24 .mu.m, .alpha.=12.degree. and V.sub.intensity=0.11 are generated.

[0066] When .theta..sub.1=-.theta..sub.2 (|.theta..sub.1|=.theta.|.theta..sub.2|.theta.=.theta.), as shown in FIG. 5C, case F, T.sub.x, T.sub.z, and V.sub.intensity are as follows:

T.sub.x.fwdarw..infin.

T.sub.z=.lamda.2 cos .theta.

V.sub.intensity=(1-cos 2.theta.)/2

[0067] When .theta..sub.1 and .theta..sub.2 are small, V.sub.intensity can be approximated as 0.degree..

[0068] Thus, helical polarization pattern with the helical axis oriented in z direction are formed. These light patterns induce similar orientational patterns in the optically recordable medium, e.g., polarization sensitive polymer. If for example .theta..sub.1=15.degree. and .theta..sub.2=-15.degree. then T.sub.z=0.19 .mu.m and V.sub.intensity=0.07.

[0069] When first light beam and second light beam counter-propagate to each other (e.g., first light beam and second light beam are parallel to each other and propagate in opposite directions) and when .theta..sub.1=.theta..sub.2.noteq.0 (FIG. 5C, case G), the grating fringes are tilted relative to the surface of the optically recordable medium and T.sub.x, T.sub.z, and V.sub.intensity are as follows:

T x = .lamda. 2 sin .theta. ##EQU00007## T z = .lamda. 2 cos .theta. ##EQU00007.2## V intensity = 0 ##EQU00007.3##

[0070] When, for example, .theta..sub.1=.theta..sub.2=45.degree., then T.sub.x=255 nm and T.sub.z=255 nm, .alpha.=45.degree..

[0071] When .theta..sub.1=.theta..sub.2=0.degree.(FIG. 5C, case H), T.sub.x, T.sub.z, and V.sub.intensity are as follows:

T.sub.x.fwdarw..infin.

T.sub.z=.lamda./2

V.sub.intensity=0

[0072] Thus, a polarization grating with a grating vector in the z-direction is formed (e.g., the fringes are parallel to the surface of the optically recordable medium).

[0073] FIG. 6A illustrates exemplary optical setup 600 for making a polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments (e.g., in accordance with exposure geometry shown in FIG. 5B).

[0074] Optical setup 600 includes light source 602 configured to emit light and beam splitter 604 configured to spatially separate light received by beam splitter 604. For example, when light source 602 emitted by light source 602 has a mixed polarization, in some cases, beam splitter 604 separates the received light into two directions (e.g., beam splitter 604 reflects first light 614 having a first polarization and transmits second light 616 having a second polarization). In some embodiments, light source 602 is configured to emit coherent light (e.g., light source 602 is a laser).

[0075] In some embodiments, optical setup 600 includes one or more polarization elements 608-1 and 608-2. For example, optical setup 600 may include polarization element 608-1 without polarization element 608-2, may include polarization element 608-2 without polarization element 608-1, or may include both polarization elements 608-1 and 608-2. In some embodiments, polarization element 608-1, when included, is configured to change the polarization of first light 614 (e.g., converts a linearly polarized light to a circularly polarized light and/or change a phase of a circularly polarized light). In some embodiments, polarization element 608-2, when included, is configured to change the polarization of second light 616 (e.g., converts a linearly polarized light to a circularly polarized light and/or change a phase of a circularly polarized light). In some embodiments, at least one of the one or more polarization elements 608-1 and 608-2 is a half-wave plate.

[0076] In some embodiments, optical setup 600 includes one or more mirrors 606 (e.g., mirrors 606-1, 606-2, and 606-3) configured to reflect light. One or more mirrors 606 are used to steer various light used with optical setup 600 (e.g., first light 614 and second light 616). In some embodiments, at least a subset of one or more mirrors 606 is tiltable (e.g., mirror 606-2 is at least partially rotatable so that an incident angle of first light 614 on mirror 606-2 can be changed without changing the direction of first light 614 before impinging on mirror 606-2; similarly, mirror 606-3 is at least partially rotatable so that an incident angle of first light 616 on mirror 606-3 can be changed without changing the direction of first light 616 before impinging on mirror 606-3).

[0077] As shown in FIG. 6A, optical setup 600 is configured to illuminate optically recordable medium 610 with first light 614 and second light 616. In FIG. 6A, first light 614 illuminates optically recordable medium 610 from first surface 610-1 (e.g., a planar surface) of optically recordable medium 610 and second light 616 illuminates optically recordable medium 610 from second surface 610-2 (e.g., a planar surface) of optically recordable medium 610 that is opposite to first surface 610-1 of optically recordable medium 610.

[0078] In some embodiments, optically recordable medium 610 is positioned on (or over) mount 612. In some embodiments, mount 612 is transparent to at least second light 616.

[0079] In some embodiments, prior to impinging on optically recordable medium 610, first light 614 and second light 616 have a same polarization. For example, first light 614 is a left-handed circularly polarized light and second light 616 is also a left-handed circularly polarized light, or first light 614 is a right-handed circularly polarized light and second light 616 is also a right-handed circularly polarized light.

[0080] As shown in FIG. 6A, optical setup 600 allows concurrent illumination of optically recordable medium 610 with cross-propagating first light 614 and second light 616. The concurrent illumination with cross-propagating first light 614 and second light 616 causes interference of first light 614 and second light 616, which generates holographic patterns in optically recordable medium 610. By adjusting the directions of first light 614 and/or second light 616, different holographic patterns can be recorded in optically recordable medium 610. When holographic patterns generated by optical setup 600 are recorded in optically recordable medium 610, optically recordable medium 610 typically operates as a reflective holographic polarization volume grating.

[0081] FIG. 6B illustrates exemplary optical setup 620 for making a polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments (e.g., in accordance with exposure geometry shown in FIG. 5A).

[0082] Optical setup 620 shown in FIG. 6B is similar to optical setup 600 shown in FIG. 6A, except that first light 614 and second light 616 illuminate first surface 610-1 of optically recordable medium 610.

[0083] When holographic patterns generated by optical setup 620 are recorded in optically recordable medium 610, optically recordable medium 610 typically operates as a transmissive holographic polarization volume grating.

[0084] In some embodiments, prior to impinging on optically recordable medium 610, first light 614 and second light 616 have orthogonal polarizations. For example, first light 614 is a left-handed circularly polarized light and second light 616 is a right-handed circularly polarized light, or first light 614 is a right-handed circularly polarized light and second light 616 is also a left-handed circularly polarized light.

[0085] FIG. 7 illustrates making an optical element by sectionally illuminating an optically recordable medium in accordance with some embodiments.

[0086] FIG. 7 shows that, at a first time, second portion 504 of optically recordable medium 110 is masked so that first light 114 and second light 116 illuminate first portion 502 of optically recordable medium 110 at a first set of angles without illuminating second portion 504 of optically recordable medium 110. As a result, polymers in first portion 502 of optically recordable medium 110 have a first pattern (e.g., helical structures 512 that correspond to a grating with a grating vector in a first direction).

[0087] FIG. 7 also shows that, at a second time different from the first time (e.g., the second time is subsequent to the first time), first portion 502 of optically recordable medium 110 is masked so that first light 114 and second light 116 illuminate second portion 504 of optically recordable medium 110 at a second set of angles different from the first set of angles (e.g., by changing the direction of first light 114 and/or the direction of second light 116 between the first time and the second time) without illuminating first portion 502 of optically recordable medium 110. As a result, polymers in second portion 504 of optically recordable medium 110 have a second pattern that is distinct from the first pattern (e.g., helical structures 514 that correspond to a grating with a grating vector in a second direction).

[0088] As a result, optically recordable medium 110 includes at least two portions with distinct optical properties.

[0089] In some embodiments, masking a portion of optically recordable medium 110 includes masking a first surface of optically recordable medium 110 without masking a second surface of optically recordable medium 110 that is opposite to the first surface of optically recordable medium 110. In some embodiments, masking a portion of optically recordable medium 110 includes masking the second surface of optically recordable medium 110 without masking the first surface of optically recordable medium 110. In some embodiments, masking a portion of optically recordable medium 110 includes masking both the first surface of optically recordable medium 110 and the second surface of optically recordable medium 110.

[0090] FIG. 8 illustrates polarization volume holographic element 800 in accordance with some embodiments. Polarization volume holographic element 800 shown in FIG. 8 includes three regions, namely first region 800-1, second region 800-2, and third region 800-3. In some embodiments, polarization volume holographic element 800 is formed by stacking first region 800-1, second region 800-2, and third region 800-3. In some embodiments, polymers in first region 800-1 are oriented in directions distinct from polymers in second region 800-2 and polymers in third region 800-3. Polymers in second region 800-2 are oriented in directions distinct from polymers in third region 800-3. For example, as shown in FIG. 8, polymers in first region 800-1 are arranged in cycloidal patterns along a first plane, polymers in second region 800-2 are arranged in cycloidal patterns along a second plane that is not parallel to the first plane, and polymers in third region 800-3 are arranged in cycloidal patterns along a third plane that is not parallel to the first plane and the second plane.

[0091] FIG. 9 illustrates method 900 of making a polarization volume holographic element in accordance with some embodiments.

[0092] The method includes providing (910) an optically recordable medium having the Klein parameter Q that is greater than, or equal to, a predefined criterion (e.g., Q is greater than 10). The optically recordable medium has a first surface and a second surface that is opposite to the first surface.

[0093] In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 5. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 10. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 15. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 20. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 25. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 30. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 35. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 40. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 45. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 50. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 60. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 70. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 80. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 90. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 100. In some embodiments, the Klein parameter Q is greater than, or equal to 200.

[0094] In some embodiments, the optically recordable medium includes photopolymers and/or liquid crystal polymers.

[0095] The PVGs based on bulk mediated photoalignment were induced in azopolymers. However, these materials absorb visible light so that orientational patterns are optically unstable. Our invention extends the range of recording media to the class of photocrosslinking materials. Besides, it extends a plurality of orientational patterns generated by polarization patterns created by two interfering light beams.

[0096] In some embodiments, the optically recordable medium includes less than 10% of azo polymers by weight. Although azo polymers may be used as photopolymers, azo polymers have significant absorption, which in turn interferes with the use of the optical elements as see-through components in displays. In some embodiments, the optically recordable medium includes little or no azo polymers. For example, in some cases, the optically recordable medium includes less than 9%, 8%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, 3%, 2%, 1%, 0.5% or 0.1% of azo polymers by weight. The optically recordable photocrosslinking materials may also include other additives, such as photosensitizers, photoinitiators, crosslinkers, reactive mesogens, etc.

[0097] The method also includes concurrently illuminating (920) the optically recordable medium (i) with a first beam having a first polarization and (ii) with a second beam having a second polarization, thereby obtaining the polarization volume holographic element.

[0098] In some embodiments, the first beam and the second beam have the same wavelength (e.g., the wavelength of the first beam and the second beam is 325 nm or 360 nm).

[0099] In some embodiments, the first beam has plane wave front and the second beam has plane wave front.

[0100] In some embodiments, the first beam has plane wave front and the second beam has spherical wave front.

[0101] In some embodiments, the first beam has spherical wave front and the second beam has spherical wave front.

[0102] In some embodiments, the first polarization corresponds to left-handed circular polarization and the second polarization corresponds to left-handed circular polarization. In some embodiments, the first polarization corresponds to right-handed circular polarization and the second polarization corresponds to right-handed circular polarization.

[0103] In some embodiments, the first polarization corresponds to left-handed circular polarization and the second polarization corresponds to right-handed circular polarization. In some embodiments, the first polarization corresponds to right-handed circular polarization and the second polarization corresponds to left-handed circular polarization.

[0104] In some embodiments, the first beam and the second beam have slightly elliptical polarization close to circular polarization.

[0105] In some embodiments, the first polarization corresponds to a first linear polarization (e.g., horizontal polarization) and the second polarization corresponds to a second linear polarization (e.g., vertical polarization) orthogonal to the first linear polarization.

[0106] In some embodiments recording beams have orthogonal circular polarizations and the angle between the beams is less than 90 degrees, preferably less than 60 degrees, most preferably less than 40 degrees so that the formed polarization patterns are cycloidal patterns (FIG. 4, section A).

[0107] In some embodiments recording beams have same circular polarizations and angle between the beams is 180.+-.45 degrees, preferably 180.+-.30 degrees, most preferably 180.+-.20 degrees so that the formed polarization patterns are helical patterns (FIG. 4, section B).

[0108] In some embodiments, the optically recordable medium is concurrently illuminated with the first beam and the second beam through the same surface of the optically recordable medium.

[0109] In some embodiments, the optically recordable medium is concurrently illuminated with the first beam through the first surface of the optically recordable medium and the second beam through the second surface of the optically recordable medium (e.g., the first beam and the second beam illuminate opposite sides of the optically recordable medium).

[0110] In some embodiments, an incidence angle of the first beam and an incidence angle of the second beam on the layer of recordable material are equal in value and sign.

[0111] In some embodiments, the incidence angle of the first beam and the incidence angle of the second beam on the layer of recordable material are equal in value and non-equal in sign.

[0112] In some embodiments, the incidence angle of the first beam and the incidence angle of the second beam on the layer of recordable material are equal in sign and non-equal in value.

[0113] In some embodiments, the incidence angle of the first beam and the incidence angle of the second beam on the layer of recordable material are non-equal in sign and non-equal in value.

[0114] In some embodiments, the first incidence angle is zero and the second incidence angle is zero.

[0115] In some embodiments, intensity fringes formed by concurrently illuminating the optically recordable medium with the first beam and the second beam have intensity variation below a predefined threshold (e.g., V.sub.intensity below a predefined threshold, such as V.ltoreq.0.25, for intensity fringes formed by concurrently illuminating the optically recordable medium).

[0116] In some embodiments, the method includes curing (930) the optically recordable medium after concurrently illuminating the optically recordable medium with the first beam and the second beam. In some embodiments, the curing includes thermal annealing. In some embodiments, the curing includes exposing the optically recordable medium to ultraviolet light.

[0117] In some embodiments, the first surface of the optically recordable medium is substantially flat and the second surface of the optically recordable medium is substantially flat.

[0118] In some embodiment, fringes of formed volume polarization gratings are perpendicular to the layer of optically recordable material.

[0119] In some embodiment, fringes of formed volume polarization gratings are parallel to the layer of optically recordable material.

[0120] In some embodiment, fringes of formed volume polarization gratings are tilted to the plane of layer of optically recordable material (slanted grating).

[0121] In some embodiments, periodic orientational patterns formed in optically recordable material under holographic exposure are cycloidal patterns.

[0122] In some embodiments, periodic orientational patterns formed in optically recordable material under holographic exposure are helical patterns.

[0123] In some embodiments, the polarization volume holographic element does not include a photoalignment layer (e.g., compare the optical elements that include alignment layers as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B).

[0124] In some embodiments, the periodic orientational patterns include variation in the orientation of the optically recordable material along each axis of the Cartesian coordinate system, where one axis of the Cartesian coordinate system is perpendicular to the first surface. For example, the polarization gratings shown in FIG. 4, where .alpha. is between 0.degree. and 90.degree. (not including 0.degree. and)90.degree., have variation in the orientation of the optically recordable material in all three Cartesian coordinate system where one axis of the Cartesian coordinate system is perpendicular to one of the surfaces of the optically recordable material. This is different from the optical elements formed by using alignment layers, as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

[0125] In accordance with some embodiments, a polarization volume holographic element includes a first optical medium that satisfies the condition Q.gtoreq.10.

[0126] In some embodiments, the layer of optically recordable medium is at a first time concurrently illuminated with first and second coherent beams in first exposure geometry thereby recording first grating, and then at a second time concurrently illuminated with the third and the fourth coherent beams in second exposure geometry thereby recording the second grating. The wavelength of third and fourth coherent beams used in second exposure step can be different from wavelength of first and second coherent beams used in first exposure step. This process is usually called grating multiplexing.

[0127] In some embodiments, the first portion of the optically recordable medium is concurrently illuminated in first exposure geometry with first and the second coherent beams while the second portion of the optically recordable medium is masked (and the first portion of the optically recordable medium is not masked), and the second portion of the optically recordable medium is concurrently illuminated in second exposure geometry with third and fourth coherent beams while the first portion of the optically recordable medium is masked (and the second portion of the optically recordable medium is not masked) (e.g., FIG. 7). The wavelength of the third and fourth coherent beams used in second exposure step can be different from wavelength of the first and second coherent beams used in first exposure step. By this way multidomain gratings can be attained.

[0128] The layer of first optical medium includes photosensitive components (e.g., fragments of polymer molecules) arranged in a first plurality of orientational patterns and the layer of second optical medium adjacent to the first layer includes photosensitive components arranged in a second plurality of orientational patterns. A first layer with a first plurality of orientational patterns is positioned in a first direction on a reference plane and a second layer with a second plurality of orientational patterns is positioned in a second direction distinct from the first direction on the reference plane. This process is usually called stacking of holographic gratings.

[0129] In some embodiments, the volume holographic element includes a layer of third optical medium. In some embodiments, each optical medium is illuminated with two beams as described herein and stacked together to form a stacked hologram (FIG. 8). In some embodiments, first optical medium is illuminated and cured, and the second optical medium is added, illuminated and cured on top of the first optical medium. In some embodiments, the polarization volume holographic medium with multiple optical mediums is prepared with a single illumination.

[0130] In some embodiments, the first plurality of periodical orientational patterns has a first period and the second plurality of periodical orientational patterns has a second period. The first optical medium is configured to diffract light of a first wavelength and transmit light of wavelengths other than the first wavelength, and the second optical medium is configured to diffract light of a second wavelength distinct from the first wavelength and transmit light of wavelengths other than the second wavelength. In some embodiments, the first wavelength corresponds to red light and the second wavelength corresponds to green light. In some embodiments, the first wavelength corresponds to red light and the second wavelength corresponds to blue light. In some embodiments, the first wavelength corresponds to blue light and the second wavelength corresponds to green light. In some embodiments, the first wavelength corresponds to visible light and the second wavelength corresponds to infrared light.

[0131] In some embodiments, the stack of polarization volume holograms prepared according to methods described herein includes one or more art holograms based on aligned liquid crystal layer as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B.

[0132] In accordance with some embodiments, a polarization volume holographic element is made by any method described herein.

[0133] Some embodiments may be described with reference to the following description:

[0134] In accordance with some embodiments, a method of creating orientational patterns in a bulk of photosensitive materials comprises providing a layer of optically recordable polarization sensitive and photocrosslinkable material having a thickness that is greater than, or equal to, a predefined thickness, a first surface and a second surface that is opposite to the first surface; and concurrently illuminating the layer of optically recordable material with two coherent beams of polarized light thereby inducing periodic orientational patterns.

[0135] In some embodiments, the beams are circularly polarized.

[0136] In some embodiments, convergence angle of the beams is less than 90.degree., preferably less than 60.degree. and most preferably less than 40.degree., and the beams have orthogonal circular polarizations thereby inducing cycloidal orientational patterns in the layer of optically recordable material.

[0137] In some embodiments, the beams impinge on the same surface of the layer of recordable material.

[0138] In some embodiments, the beams impinge on the opposite surfaces of the layer of recordable material.

[0139] In some embodiments, the convergence angle of the beams is 180.+-.45.degree., preferably 180.+-.30.degree., and most preferably 180.+-.20.degree., and the beams have same circular polarizations thereby inducing helical orientational patterns in the layer of optically recordable material.

[0140] In some embodiments, the beams impinge on the opposite surfaces of the layer of recordable material.

[0141] In some embodiments, the beams impinge on the same surface of the layer of recordable material.

[0142] In some embodiments, incidence angles of the recording beams are equal.

[0143] In some embodiments, incidence angles of the recording beams are not equal.

[0144] In some embodiments, beams are collimated (e.g., the beams have plane wave fronts).

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