The linear electro‐optic effect in short‐pitch cholesterics is based on the linear coupling of the medium with an applied electric field. It has a number of remarkable properties. The electric field causes the optic axis to tilt in a plane parallel to the surfaces of the cell glass plates, giving the same symmetry as the electro‐optic effects in the smectic C* phase (surface stabilized ferroelectric liquid crystals and deformed helix mode) and the smectic A* phase (soft mode/electroclinic effect). For shutters and displays this guarantees a very wide viewing angle. The induced tilt is a linear function of the applied field, at least for small fields, which gives a well‐controlled continuous grey scale. Furthermore, it is practically independent of temperature. Response times of the order of 100 μs are easily achievable. The most interesting development in this effect would be to extend the linear regime to much larger tilt angles, in particular to 22.5°, where light could be modulated from 100% to zero transmission. In order to do this the perturbation from the quadratic dielectric coupling has to be ruled out or minimized, which requires materials with essentially zero dielectric anisotropy. This has been done, and it has been found that the bare flexoelectric‐induced tilt has a surprising range of linearity: The linear response in tilt could be followed up to about 30° after which the high electric field caused breakdown. The response time is typically about 100 μs and below.

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