Illustrative example of a polarization-analyzing hologram. The metasurface hologram creates a far field in which the light is directed according to the incident polarization state of the object when it is illuminated by a laser beam. The hologram in this example is intended to create a pattern of illustrations that show different polarization states. Credit: Capasso Lab/Harvard SEAS
Researchers at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have been creating metasurfaces that manipulate light based upon its polarization state for years. While this research contributed to advancements in polarization technology, metasurface technology proved more powerful than the researchers realized.
Researchers have discovered hidden potential in these metasurfaces. In a new paper, they demonstrate optical devices that can manipulate light's Polarization State with unprecedented control.
Federico Capasso is the Robert L. Wallace Professor in Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS. He is also the senior author of this paper. Our metasurface is capable of encoding unlimited numbers of holographic images and manipulating light in almost infinite directions, based on an extremely large number of different polarization states.
Science Advances published the research. It demonstrates a new method to control polarized sunlight with metasurfaces. This new method, which allows researchers to engineer a holographic picture with a polarization-tunable response across its image, could be used in a variety of fields, including imaging, microscopes and displays, as well as astronomy.
Noah Rubin, a postdoctoral fellow in SEAS and the first author of this paper, stated that "this advancement is general" and could be applied almost to any optical system that uses light polarized. This suggests that metasurfaces can be used in new laser systems whose output light could have been engineered based light's polarization status, or even in telescope systems, where similar types are being used to aid the detection of Earth-like extraplanets.
Aun Zaidi is a graduate student at SEAS who was co-lead author. "Holography had always been a popular method to record and display information." "We have taken the fundamental principle of Holography and extended it in a way which greatly increases the information capacity of this very old technique."
The researchers will continue to study these devices, and how they might be applied in real-world situations.
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More information: Noah A. Rubin and colleagues, Jones matrix holography using metasurfaces, Science Advances (2021). Noah A. Rubin and colleagues, Jones matrix holography using metasurfaces, (2021). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abg7488 The Harvard Office of Technology Development has protected the intellectual property relating to this project and is exploring commercialization opportunities. Information about Science Advances