Joint OSE, CHTW & SPIE Student Chapter Seminar by Dr. Svetlana G. Lukishova on Liquid Crystals under Two Extremes: (1) High-Power Laser Irradiation and (2) Single-Photon Level

Departmental News

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Posted: April 25, 2023


Dr. Svetlana G. Lukishova
The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester,

Date: Thursday, April 27, 2023

Time:  12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Location: CHTM, Room 103 and Zoom.


This review will highlight the main effects of using liquid crystals (LCs) in nonlinear optics [1, 2], quantum optics and nanophotonics [3, 4], starting from the first works on generation of harmonics and self-focusing of pulsed laser beams near the phase transition. The most important nonlinear optical properties of LCs are the giant orientational optical nonlinearity found in cw laser beams, as well as thermooptical coefficients, which are more than an order of magnitude higher than the thermooptical coefficients of conventional liquids. The manifestations of giant optical nonlinearity in oriented layers of nematic LCs will be outlined. The dissolution of various dyes leads to many new non-thermal nonlinear effects with practical applications. LC glassy oligomers/polymers and polymer dispersed LC composites expand the range of applications for these materials.

In high-power nanosecond and picosecond laser interaction with LCs the following topics will be highlighted: (1) LC optics in high-power laser-fusion systems; (2) nonthermal unwinding of a cholesteric LC (CLC) helix by the field of a light wave (planar aligned CLCs act like mirrors that selectively reflect light in a certain spectral region); (3) low-threshold CLC microlasers; (4) enhancement of nonlinearity in the region of a gradient of a CLC mirror reflectivity; (5) nonlinear absorption and refraction, cumulative effects in thermal self-focusing; and (6) formation of ordered spatial patterns in beams without feedback in the presence of highly absorbing dyes.

The last part of this review will discuss the prospects for the use of LCs in nanophotonics and in flat optics. From quantum optical applications, q-plates for creating beams with an orbital angular momentum, the generation of single (antibunched) photons with a definite polarization, modeling quantum mechanical tunneling phenomena will be considered as well as measurements in a Hong-Ou-Mandel interferometer of single photons’ transit times along a band-edge of CLC mirrors’ reflectivity. The prospects of patterned LCs will also be discussed.


  1. I.C. Khoo, Liquid Crystals, John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken (2007). 
  2. S.G. Lukishova, "Nonlinear optical response of cyanobiphenyl liquid crystals to high-power, nanosecond laser radiation", J. Nonlinear Opt. Phys. & Mater. 9, 365411 (2000). 
  3. S.G. Lukishova and L.J. Bissell, “Nanophotonic advances for room-temperature single-photon sources”, 103-178, in Quantum Photonics: Pioneering Advances and Emerging Applications, R.W. Boyd, S.G. Lukishova, V. Zadkov, Eds, Springer Series in Optical Sciences, Vol. 217, Springer NY (2019). 
  4.  S.G. Lukishova, A.C. Liapis, L.J. Bissell, G.M. Gehring, and R.W. Boyd, “Single-photon experiments with liquid crystals for quantum science and quantum engineering applications”, Liquid Cryst. Rev 2, No. 2, 111–129 (2014).


Prof. Svetlana G. Lukishova was born in Moscow. She received her BS/MS (with honors) and PhD degrees from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (the university with a highest course load in physics and mathematics in Russia) working at the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). Her senior project on theoretical astrophysics was made at a Nobel Prize winner V.L. Ginzburg’s theory department. Her PhD thesis was supervised by P.P. Pashinin and Nobel Prize winner A.M. Prokhorov and involved spatial beam-profile and temporal pulse-shape control in laser-fusion systems. After holding research positions in Russian scientific institutes and the Liquid Crystal Institute (Kent, OH), she joined the Institute of Optics, University of Rochester. After 30-year-experience with high-power laser systems and interaction of laser radiation with matter she moved to quantum nanophotonics, that is currently her main research area in addition to liquid crystals. She served two terms as the topical (associate) editor of Optica OSA journal Optics Letters in the fields of nanophotonics, liquid crystals and nonlinear optics. She has approximately 250 publications including co-editing and chapters of two Springer books: “Self-focusing: Past and Present. Fundamentals and Prospects” (2009) and “Quantum Photonics: Pioneering Advances and Emerging Applications” (2019).

Awarded four NSF grants she created the Quantum Optics, Quantum Information and Nanooptics Teaching Laboratory facility and developed two undergraduate and one graduate courses on this facility: . She also created and directs the University of Rochester undergraduate program on the Certificate in Nanoscience and Nanoengineering. These activities were described in detail in two papers of the special section of SPIE journal Optical Engineering (Vol. 61, is. 8, 2022). On May 16 2023 she will lead the symposium “How to Teach Quantum in the Age of the Second Quantum Revolution” during the International Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics that will have a free access through Zoom.