Transparent conductors are essential for optoelectronic components operating in the far-infrared or terahertz (THz) frequency range. Indium tin oxide (ITO), extensively used in the visible, is semi-transparent in the far-infrared frequency range. Other types of bulk transparent conducting oxides (TCOs), such as aluminum-doped zinc oxide (AZO) and aluminum and ytterbium-doped zinc oxide (AYZO), have not yet been explored for THz applications. Recently, biomimic nanomaterials have been shown to exhibit exotic optical properties, e.g., broadband, omnidirectional antireflective properties. Indeed, nanostructured ITO was found to exhibit the above desirable characteristics. In this chapter, we describe the fabrication and characterization of several TCOs, including ITO nanomaterials and several types of bulk TCO thin films, e.g., AZO and AYZO. Performance of THz phase shifters with ITO nanomaterials as transparent electrodes and liquid crystals for functionalities is presented.
Part of the book: Terahertz Spectroscopy
We review our theoretical and experimental studies on a class of liquid crystal (LC) photonic devices, i.e., terahertz (THz) phase gratings and beam steerers by using LCs. Such gratings can function as a THz polarizer and tunable THz beam splitters. The beam splitting ratio of the zeroth-order diffraction to the first-order diffraction by the grating can be tuned from 10:1 to 3:5. Gratings with two different base dimensions were prepared. The insertion loss is lower by approximately 2.5 dB for the one with the smaller base. The response times of the gratings were also studied and were long (tens of seconds) as expected because of the thick LC layer used. Accordingly, the devices are not suitable for applications that require fast modulation. However, they are suitable for instrumentation or apparatuses that require precise control, e.g., an apparatus requiring a fixed beam splitting ratio with occasional fine tuning. Schemes for speeding up the device responses were proposed. Based on the grating structure, we also achieved an electrically tunable THz beam steerer. Broadband THz radiation can be steered by 8.5° with respect to the incident beam by varying the driving voltages to yield the designed phase gradient.
Part of the book: Liquid Crystals