Research Brief Visual Story

Optical Metasurfaces Are Becoming More Precise, More Flexible

Wafer-like materials studded with nanofabricated protrusions enable researchers to direct light and contemplate new optical devices.

Scientists are devising increasingly precise ways to manipulate light with metasurfaces—tiny flat structures resembling microscopic sheets of Lego with studs of varying size and density. The stud-like meta-atoms that make up metasurfaces are small enough to interact with visible light at the scale of its wavelengths.

Advances in nanotechnology and computing are now enabling researchers not only to model the resonance of individual nano-atoms but also to design whole wavefronts created by nano-atom arrays based on the shape, size, and arrangement of constituent parts. The result is a degree of control that in some cases rivals traditional optics, has the potential to lead to new imaging and sensing devices in biomedicine, and holds promise for wearable displays.

Haogang Cai, PhD, assistant professor of radiology at NYU Langone Health and scientist at the Tech4Health Institute and the Center for Advanced Imaging Innovation and Research, leads a laboratory dedicated to the study and development of metasurfaces. His recent work includes metalenses capable of achromatic focusing, medium-switchable metaholograms, and a nanofabrication method for ultrathin metasufraces on flexible, transferable substrates.

To learn more about optical metasurfaces and Dr. Cai’s research on them, open the visual story below.

Visual Story

Metasurfaces: Light-Bending, Wafer-Thin Lenses with a Bright Future
Metasurfaces: Light-Bending, Wafer-Thin Lenses with a Bright Future
Optical metasurfaces hold promise for ultra-thin lenses, sensors, and devices. A lab at NYU Langone Health is exploring this emerging nanotechnology.