Pixel-level tunable liquid crystal lenses for auto-stereoscopic display
Mobile video and gaming are now widely used, and delivery of a glass-free 3D experience is of both research and development interest. The key drawbacks of a conventional 3D display based on a static lenticular lenslet array and parallax barriers are low resolution, limited viewing angle and reduced brightness, mainly because of the need of multiple-pixels for each object point. This study describes the concept and performance of pixel-level cylindrical liquid crystal (LC) lenses, which are designed to steer light to the left and right eye sequentially to form stereo parallax. The width of the LC lenses can be as small as 20-30 μm, so that the associated auto-stereoscopic display will have the same resolution as the 2D display panel in use. Such a thin sheet of tunable LC lens array can be applied directly on existing mobile displays, and can deliver 3D viewing experience while maintaining 2D viewing capability. Transparent electrodes were laser patterned to achieve the single pixel lens resolution, and a high birefringent LC material was used to realise a large diffraction angle for a wide field of view. Simulation was carried out to model the intensity profile at the viewing plane and optimise the lens array based on the measured LC phase profile. The measured viewing angle and intensity profile were compared with the simulation results.