In this paper, we show that photosensitive azo-dye doped Blue-phase liquid crystals (BPLC) formed by natural molecular self-assembly are capable of high diffraction efficiency holographic recording with memory that can be prolonged from few seconds to several minutes by uniform illumination with the reference beam. Operating in the Bragg regime, we have observed 50 times improvement in the grating diffraction efficiency and shorter recording time compared to previous investigations. The enabling mechanism is BPLC's lattice distortion and index modulation caused by the action of light on the azo-dopant; upon photo-excitation, the azo-molecules undergo transformation from the oblong-shaped Trans-state to the bent-shaped Cis-state, imparting disorder and also cause the surrounding BPLC molecules to undergo coupled flow & reorientation leading to lattice distortion and index modulation. We also showed that the same mechanism at work here that facilitates lattice distortion can be used to frustrate free relaxation of the lattice distortion, thereby prolonging the lifetime of the written grating, provided the reference beam is kept on after recording. Due to the ease in BPLC fabrication and the availability of azo-dopants with photosensitivity throughout the entire visible spectrum, one can optimize the controlling material and optical parameters to obtain even better performance.
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