Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Lenses from metamaterials

As alluded to in my previous posts on metamaterials and metasurfaces, there have been some recently published papers that take these ideas and do impressive things.

  • Khorasaninejad et al. have made a metasurface out of a 2d array of very particularly designed TiO2 posts on a glass substrate.  The posts vary in size and shape, and are carefully positioned and oriented on the substrate so that, for light incident from behind the glass, normal to the glass surface, and centered on the middle of the array, the light is focused to a spot 200 microns above the array surface.  Each little TiO2 post acts like a sub-wavelength scatterer and imparts a phase on the passing light, so that the whole array together acts like a converging lens.  This is very reminiscent of the phased array I'd mentioned previously.  For a given array, different colors focus to different depths (chromatic aberration).  Impressively, the arrays are designed so that there is no polarization dependence of the focusing properties for a given color.    
  • Hu et al. have made a different kind of metasurface, using plasmonically active gold nanoparticles on a glass surface.  The remarkable achievement here is that the authors have used a genetic algorithm to find a pattern of nanoparticle shapes and sizes that somehow, through phased array magic, produces a metasurface that functions as an achromatic lens - different visible colors (red, green, blue) normally incident on the array focus to the same spot, albeit with a short focal length of a few microns. 
  •  Finally, in more of a 3d metamaterial approach, Krueger et al. have leveraged their ability to create 3d designer structures of porous silicon.  The porous silicon frameworks have an effective index of refraction at the desired wavelength.  By controllably varying the porosity as a function of distance from the optical axis of the structure, these things can act as lenses.  Moreover, because of designed anisotropy in the framework, they can make different polarizations of incident light experience different effective refractive indices and therefore have different focal lengths.  Fabrication here is supposed to be considerably simpler than the complicated e-beam lithography needed to accomplish the same goal with 2d metasurfaces.
These are just papers published in the last couple of weeks!  Clearly this is a very active field.


Ultrafast said...

It is an increasingly active field and updates and new materials are always appreciaed.

Douglas Natelson said...

I'm going to let that comment stay, because it's the first ever blog spam comment I've had in 11 years of blogging that actually advertised scientific equipment.