Polarization plays a key role in science; hence its versatile manipulation is crucial. Existing polarization optics, however, can only manipulate polarization in a single transverse plane. Here we demonstrate a new class of polarizers and wave plates—based on metasurfaces—that can impart an arbitrarily chosen polarization response along the propagation direction, regardless of the incident polarization. The underlying mechanism relies on transforming an incident waveform into an ensemble of pencil-like beams with different polarization states that beat along the optical axis thereby changing the resulting polarization at will, locally, as light propagates. Remarkably, using form-birefringent metasurfaces in combination with matrix-based holography enables the desired propagation-dependent polarization response to be enacted without a priori knowledge of the incident polarization—a behaviour that would require three polarization-sensitive holograms if implemented otherwise. Our work expands the use of polarization in the design of multifunctional metasurfaces and may find application in tunable structured light, optically switchable devices and versatile light–matter interactions.
Virtual and augmented realities are rapidly developing technologies, but their large-scale penetration will require lightweight optical components with small aberrations. We demonstrate millimeter-scale diameter, high-NA, submicron-thin, metasurface-based lenses that achieve diffraction-limited achromatic focusing of the primary colors by exploiting constructive interference of light from multiple zones and dispersion engineering. To illustrate the potential of this approach, we demonstrate a virtual reality system based on a home-built fiber scanning near-eye display.
Since its advent in the 1970s, optical tweezers have been widely deployed as a preferred non-contact technique for manipulating microscale objects. On-chip integrated optical tweezers, which afford significant size, weight, and cost benefits, have been implemented, relying upon near-field evanescent waves. As a result, these tweezers are only capable of manipulation in near-surface regions and often demand high power since the evanescent interactions are relatively weak. We introduce on-chip optical tweezers based on freeform micro-optics, which comprise optical reflectors or refractive lenses integrated on waveguide end facets via two-photon polymerization. The freeform optical design offers unprecedented degrees of freedom to design optical fields with strong three-dimensional intensity gradients, useful for trapping and manipulating suspended particles in an integrated chip-scale platform. We demonstrate the design, fabrication, and measurement of both reflective and refractive micro-optical tweezers. The reflective tweezers feature a remarkably low trapping threshold power, and the refractive tweezers are particularly useful for multiparticle trapping and interparticle interaction analysis. Our integrated micro-optical tweezers uniquely combine a compact footprint, broadband operation, high trapping efficiency, and scalable integration with planar photonic circuits. This class of tweezers is promising for on-chip sensing, cell assembly, particle dynamics analysis, and ion trapping.