Tailored light inspired by nature

This photo shows the fabrication procedure of a nondiffracting of a lightfield using a desired transversed caustic. WWU - Alessandro Zannotti

Modern applications as high resolution microsopy or micro- or nanoscale material processing require customized laser beams that do not change during propagation.

This represents an immense challenge since light typically broadens during propagation, a phenomenon known as diffraction. So-called propagation-invariant or non-diffracting light fields therefore do not seem possible at first glance.

If it were possible to produce them, they would enable new applications such as light disk microscopy or laser-based cutting, milling or drilling with high aspect ratios.

An international research team from the Universities of Birmingham, Marseille and Münster has now succeeded for the first time to create arbitrary nondiffracting beams.

“We implement an approach inspired by nature, in which any desired intensity structure can be specified by its boundaries,” explains one of the authors of the study, Prof. Cornelia Denz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Münster.

The authors cleverly exploit light structures that can be seen in rainbows or when light is transmitted through drinking glasses: spectacular ray structures named caustics. They are bright focus lines that overlap, and thereby building networks that can be exploited for nondiffracting propagation.

The team developed a method to use these caustics as a basis for the generation of arbitrary structures, and has thus created an intelligent manipulation of ray propagation.

In this way, countless new types of laser beams can be formed on the micrometer scale, opening up completely new perspectives in optical materials processing, multidimensional signal transmission or advanced high resolution imaging.

Only some years ago it was possible to realize a few light fields that exhibit these non-diffracting properties, even though the theoretical idea is older: Concentric ring structures like the Bessel beam could be produced in a propagation-invariant way.

The theory predicts a whole class of beams whose transverse shape is generated on elliptical or parabolic trajectories and represent natural solutions of the wave equation.

Although there has long been a need for such customized light beams with these properties, they have hardly been produced experimentally because the invariance of the transverse intensity structure must be maintained during propagation.

The study results of the team were recently published in the journal “Nature Communications”.

The study received financial support from the National Science Foundation, the Excellence Initiative of the University of Aix-Marseille and the Universities of Bristol, Birmingham and Münster.

Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Institute of Applied Physics
Prof. Cornelia Denz
Tel. 0251 / 83-335-17 (directly)
Tel. 0251 / 83-335-18 (Secretariat)
E-mail: denz@uni-muenster.de

A. Zannotti, C. Denz, M. A. Alonso, M. R. Dennis (2020): Shaping caustics into propagation invariant light. Nature Communications; DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-17439-3

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-020-17439-3 Original publication in “Nature Communications”
https://www.uni-muenster.de/Physik.AP/Denz/en/NLP.html Research group Prof. Cornelia Denz at Münster University
https://markrdennis.com/ Research group of Prof. Mark Dennis, University of Birmingham
https://www.fresnel.fr/spip/spip.php?rubrique424&act=alonso&lang=fr Research group of Prof. Miguel Alonso, University of Aix-Marseille

Media Contact

Kathrin Nolte idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

Alle Nachrichten aus der Kategorie: Physics and Astronomy

This area deals with the fundamental laws and building blocks of nature and how they interact, the properties and the behavior of matter, and research into space and time and their structures.

innovations-report provides in-depth reports and articles on subjects such as astrophysics, laser technologies, nuclear, quantum, particle and solid-state physics, nanotechnologies, planetary research and findings (Mars, Venus) and developments related to the Hubble Telescope.

Zurück zur Startseite

Kommentare (0)

Schreib Kommentar

Neueste Beiträge

Nanocrystals make volcanoes explode

Bayreuth geoscientist discovers causes of sudden eruptions Tiny crystals, ten thousand times thinner than a human hair, can cause explosive volcanic eruptions. This surprising connection has recently been discovered by…

Cheering up a frustrated quantum system

One of the holy-grail questions in condensed matter physics is how superconductivity — the property of many electrons to go into a quantum soup state that can carry electricity without…

One bacterium – two life forms

Secondary variant of Photorhabdus luminescens interacts with plant roots New form of insect-pathogenic bacterium extends the options for sustainable crop protection and biological pest control in agriculture. One of the…

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.