For years, researchers at (SEAS) have engineered metasurfaces to manipulate light based on its polarization state. That research has contributed to advances in polarization technology but metasurface technology has proven more powerful than even the researchers themselves realized. Now, they have uncovered hidden potential in these metasurfaces and demonstrated optical devices that manipulate light’s polarization state with an unprecedented degree of control.

The new metasurface can encode an unlimited number of holographic images or manipulate light in a virtually infinite number of directions based on a very large number of polarization states.

The research demonstrates a new way to control polarized light with metasurfaces. This new approach, in which a holographic image can be engineered with a polarization-tunable response across the image itself, could lead to applications in diverse fields including imaging, microscopes, displays, and astronomy.

According to the researchers, this advancement is general and could be applied to almost any kind of optical system that uses polarized light. Their work suggests that metasurfaces could be used in new types of laser systems whose light output could be engineered based on the light’s polarization state, or perhaps in telescope systems where similar types of optics are already being used, to aid in the detection of Earth-like exoplanets.

Holography has always been a popular technique to record and display information — this research has taken a fundamental principle of holography and generalized it in a way that greatly expands the information capacity of this rather old technique.

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