This is a review of results from studying ferroelectric liquid crystals (FLCs) of a new type developed for fast low-voltage displays and light modulators. These materials are helix-free FLCs, which are characterized by spatially periodic deformation of smectic layers and a small value of spontaneous polarization (less than 50 nC/cm2
). The FLC director is reoriented due to the motion of solitons at the transition to the Maxwellian mechanism of energy dissipation. A theoretical model is proposed for describing the FLC deformation and director reorientation. The frequency and field dependences of the optical response time are studied experimentally for modulation of light transmission, scattering, and phase delay with a high rate. The hysteresis-free nature and smooth dependence of the optical response on the external electric field in the frequency range up to 6 kHz is demonstrated, as well as bistable light scattering with memorization of an optical state for a time exceeding the switching time by up to 6 orders of magnitude. Due to the spatially inhomogeneous light phase delay, the ability of a laser beam to cause interference is effectively suppressed. The fastest FLCs under study are compatible with 3D, FLC on Silicon (FLCoS), and Field Sequential Colors (FSC) technologies.
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