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Nanotechnology

Federico Capasso: Metasurface flat optics: Unifying semiconductor manufacturing and lens making

An Optics + Photonics 2018 Plenary Presentation Recording

2 October 2018, SPIE Newsroom. DOI:

SPIE Fellow Federico Capasso of Harvard UniversityIn this plenary session, Federico Capasso, the father of bandgap engineering and co-inventor of the QCL, begins with a vision for planar ("flat") optics with comprehensive, far-reaching goals: a CMOS compatible flat optics platform for high-volume markets - cameras, displays, and wearable optics - and a wide range of optical components (lenses, holograms, polarizers, phase plates) for use with machine vision, biomedical imaging, scientific applications, drones, polarimetry laser lithography, and OEM markets.

In a discussion that includes an examination of Fresnel/binary optics vs. metasurface-based optics, Capasso highlights the transformative properties of metalenses and the multi-functionality inherent in flat optics utilizing a hybrid metalens design.

The goal is very ambitious, he says, but there is a "constellation of companies" working with silicon chips and lenses: "What if we could combine the semiconducting and the optics parts? In the future, we will have optic foundries. The applications possibilities are very large." Heralding the next step in miniaturizing spectrometers, Capasso predicts that current developments will "change the way we do refractive optics. Merging the chip industry and the lens-making industry will be game-changing."

Federico Capasso is the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Harvard University (USA).  Capasso is the recipient of numerous awards, including the SPIE Gold Medal in 2013 in recognition of his seminal and wide-ranging contributions to photonics; in particular bandgap engineering of optoelectronic materials and devices, quantum cascade lasers and plasmonics based photonic devices.

Related SPIE content:

Macro to nanoscale imaging using planar lenses at visible wavelengths
A novel fabrication process from the Capasso lab develops highly efficient planar metalenses that allow for diffraction-limited focusing, unprecedented imaging quality, and the ability to resolve chirality.

Molding optical wavefronts: flat optics based on metasurfaces (Presentation Video)
Metasurfaces based on sub-wavelength patterning have major potential for realizing arbitrary control of the wavefront of the diffracted light by achieving local control of the phase amplitude and polarization.

Gold Medal Award for World Changing Science
Federico Capasso of Harvard receives 2013 SPIE Gold Medal Award.

Federico Capasso: SPIE Gold Medal Winner
The 2013 Gold Medal of SPIE, the society's highest honor, was presented to Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Video interview: Federico Capasso on the quantum cascade laser
The mature technology of the QCL is now finding commercial applications.