We study how the propagation of light inside recently developed micro-structured cells, can be actively tuned by polarising the nanoscale defects in the nematic liquid crystals they contain. Our ‘planar-spherical’ cells are formed by assembling a planar and a gold-coated hemispherical micro-mirror. Optical reflection images of the back-reflected polarised light show a remarkable change of symmetry as a function of the voltage applied to the cell. <br/>Theoretical models of the alignment of the liquid crystal within the cell indicate that the constraints imposed on the liquid crystal by the cell geometry and by the applied electric field induces the formation of defects. Their motion under the effect of the applied electric field is responsible for the change of symmetry of the back-reflected light. Furthermore, experimental measurements of the relaxation time of the back-reflected intensity indicate that the motion of the defect in our micro-structured cells is much faster than in equivalent planar cells
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