A substrate (20) is treated prior to use to induce a near-perpendicular orientation of a liquid crystal director (26) relative to the substrate. A layer of silica (98) is deposited upon the substrate (20) by in-line magnetron sputtering as the substrate ( 20) is moved past the sputtering target (78), and the silica-coated substrate (20) is thereafter treated with a long-chain alcohol. The alcohol-treated substrate (20) is covered with a layer of liquid crystal (22), the director (26) of the liquid crystal (22) assuming a field-off state tilted about 1-3 degrees from the perpendicular toward an azimuthal direction (30) parallel to the direction of movement of the substrate (20) during deposition.
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