Recent studies have shown that aligned nematic films will undergo reorientation by moderate intensity (a few W/cm2) optical fields or a combination of optical and de fields and will generate large nonlinear optical effects. This paper is addressed specifically to the quantitative aspects of the theory and experiments on all contributing factors (including the thermal indexing effect). It also considers the feasibility of applying these optical nonlinearities in real-time switching and imaging devices.

© 1982 Optical Society of America

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