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Single-sided alignment, in which only one of the two display substrates bears an alignment layer, stands to significantly simplify the manufacture and improve the yield and performance of active matrix displays. Using polybutylene terephthalate alignment layers, we show that single-sided alignment is feasible for electroclinic liquid crystals and can result in faster switching and larger tilt angle. Most importantly, single-sided alignment gave high contrast in excess of 170:1. © 1998 American Institute of Physics.