Rotating stacked DOEs provides focus tuning and polychromatic operation

March 10, 2017
By rotating stacked diffractive optical elements with respect to each other around their central axis, the optical power of the combined element can be precisely tuned.

By rotating stacked diffractive optical elements (DOEs) with respect to each other around their central axis, the optical power of the combined element can be precisely tuned. And while monochromatic operation has been previously demonstrated, researchers at Innsbruck Medical University (Innsbruck, Austria) have now extended this principle to demonstrate polychromatic tunable lenses—lenses with the same optical power and diffraction efficiency over the full tuning range at three or more selectable wavelengths. Polychromaticity is achieved by rotating Moiré diffractive optical elements (MDOEs)—higher-order DOEs that are polychromatic at harmonics of a fundamental selected wavelength and have a large optical power tuning range, diffraction-limited focusing, and high diffraction efficiency from 80% up to 100%. Rotation adjusts the phase profiles of the lenses such that, for three or more selected wavelengths, the focal length and diffraction efficiency is equal over the entire tunable range.

Just recently, Austrian startup company Diffractec was founded to exploit the patented technology (U.S. patent 2010/0134869 A1) for novel optical devices, including autofocus and zoom objectives, laser projection, and 3D material processing with lasers. Furthermore, the principle is applicable to other types of rotationally tunable optical elements, including axicons or lenses with arbitrary radial phase profiles, or to variants of diffractive Alvarez lenses that are tunable by a mutual translation. Reference: S. Bernet and M. Ritsch-Marte, Opt. Express, 25, 3, 2469-2480 (2017).

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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