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Proceedings Paper

Adaptive optics actuation by means of van der Waals forces: a novel nanotechnology strategy to steer light by light
Author(s): Fabrizio Pinto
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Paper Abstract

The feasibility to carry out the contactless actuation and control of both continuous facesheet deformable mirrors and MOEMS segmented micromirrors by manipulating van der Waals forces between electrically neutral surfaces is discussed. As we show, appropriately engineering such surface forces allows for adaptive optics strategies that are fully scalable down to the nanostructure level and that are intimately based on the optical properties of the materials involved. Since the magnitude of unretarded van der Waals forces diverges as the third power of the distance between the adaptive surface and the back-facing, actuating boundary, the novel approach proposed herein remains effective as the device size decreases even enabling one to address individual atoms. In some implementations, the actuation mechanism is driven by the dependence of van der Waals forces in semiconductors on illumination. Therefore the possibility exists, with adequate power levels, to design feed-back loops driven exclusively by light. A remarkable property of dispersion forces is their drastic behavior as a function of the topology of the interacting surfaces. This fact, at the frontier of contemporary numerical investigations, leads to the consideration of geometries in which dispersion forces are expected to change from attractive to repulsive. Finally, van der Waals forces exist between all neutral materials and contactless actuation can be achieved, for instance, even if the reflecting surface is not a conductor. This will open new multidimensional parameter space to the use of suitably designed classes of adaptive optics materials, including dielectrics, semiconductors, and multilayered structures, such as photonic-band-gap crystals.

Paper Details

Date Published: 17 November 2008
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 7266, Optomechatronic Technologies 2008, 726616 (17 November 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.816474
Show Author Affiliations
Fabrizio Pinto, InterStellar Technologies Corp. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 7266:
Optomechatronic Technologies 2008
John T. Wen; Dalibor Hodko; Yukitoshi Otani; Jonathan Kofman; Okyay Kaynak, Editor(s)

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