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Title: Meta-optics inspired surface plasmon devices [Meta-optics inspired surface plasmon devices]
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Photonics Insights
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Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. The inverse design of meta-optics has received much attention in recent years. In this paper, we propose a GPU-friendly inverse design framework based on improved eigendecomposition-free rigorous diffraction interface theory, which offers up to 16.2 × speedup over the traditional inverse design based on rigorous coupled-wave analysis. We further improve the framework’s flexibility by introducing a hybrid parameterization combining neural-implicit and traditional shape optimization. We demonstrate the effectiveness of our framework through intricate tasks, including the inverse design of reconfigurable free-form meta-atoms.

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  2. Rapid advancements in autonomous systems and the Internet of Things have necessitated the development of compact and low-power image sensors to bridge the gap between the digital and physical world. To that end, sub-wavelength diffractive optics, commonly known as meta-optics, have garnered significant interest from the optics and photonics community due to their ability to achieve multiple functionalities within a small form factor. Despite years of research, however, the performance of meta-optics has often remained inferior compared to that of traditional refractive optics. In parallel, computational imaging techniques have emerged as a promising path to miniaturize optical systems, albeit often at the expense of higher power and latency. The lack of desired performance from either meta-optical or computational solutions has motivated researchers to look into a jointly optimized meta-optical–digital solution. While the meta-optical front end can preprocess the scene to reduce the computational load on the digital back end, the computational back end can in turn relax requirements on the meta-optics. In this Perspective, we provide an overview of this up-and-coming field, termed here as “software-defined meta-optics.” We highlight recent contributions that have advanced the current state of the art and point out directions toward which future research efforts should be directed to leverage the full potential of subwavelength photonic platforms in imaging and sensing applications. Synergistic technology transfer and commercialization of meta-optic technologies will pave the way for highly efficient, compact, and low-power imaging systems of the future.

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  3. Abstract

    Subwavelength diffractive optics known as meta-optics have demonstrated the potential to significantly miniaturize imaging systems. However, despite impressive demonstrations, most meta-optical imaging systems suffer from strong chromatic aberrations, limiting their utilities. Here, we employ inverse-design to create broadband meta-optics operating in the long-wave infrared (LWIR) regime (8-12μm). Via a deep-learning assisted multi-scale differentiable framework that links meta-atoms to the phase, we maximize the wavelength-averaged volume under the modulation transfer function (MTF) surface of the meta-optics. Our design framework merges local phase-engineering via meta-atoms and global engineering of the scatterer within a single pipeline. We corroborate our design by fabricating and experimentally characterizing all-silicon LWIR meta-optics. Our engineered meta-optic is complemented by a simple computational backend that dramatically improves the quality of the captured image. We experimentally demonstrate a six-fold improvement of the wavelength-averaged Strehl ratio over the traditional hyperboloid metalens for broadband imaging.

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