The Promise of Diffractive Waveplates

Nelson V. Tabiryan, Sarik R. Nersisyan, Diane M. Steeves and Brian R. Kimball

Diffractive waveplates exhibit the high diffraction efficiency of Bragg gratings in micron-thick material layers.


figureBroadband high efficiency diffraction of an unpolarized light by a diffractive waveplate is revealed in the image of a hand taken through the waveplate.

It sounds too good to be true: a micron-thick optical component with diffraction efficiency as high as a Bragg grating but with a spectrum of wavelengths and divergence angles that are two to three orders broader—plus electrical or optical switchability. If such a component were feasible, it may become a valuable photonics tool that could give displays the ability to use all available light; enable beam steering systems to become compact and tolerant to high power beams; and give spectrometers broadband gratings. It could also make biological and chemical sensors more sensitive and give spatial light modulators higher speed.

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