Researchers have introduced the concept of metaform optics – integrating freeform optics and metasurfaces into a single optical component. This metaform architecture will benefit high-resolution optical systems with a compact form factor, such as augmented reality displays, sensors, and mobile cameras.
The researchers experimentally realized a miniature imager using a metaform mirror. They used an enhanced electron beam lithography process on a freeform substrate to fabricate the mirror. Metaforms offer design degrees of freedom to support a new generation of optical systems.
The inspiration for the metaform optics is to serve as the combiner for a near-eye display. Near-eye display development is one field where metaforms can be particularly useful for imaging. The optic that combines the real-world view and the digital image should conform to the existing curved glass shape.
Freeform surface systems have been shown to achieve diffraction-limited optical performance in compact folded geometries. Light interacts with subwavelength structures that decorate a planar surface to control the wavefront. The local phase of the output light is controlled by changing feature properties with dimensions ranging from tens to hundreds of nanometers.
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