The technology could revolutionize optical neural networks, depth sensing, and lidar technology for autonomous cars.
August 11, 2021

MIT engineers and colleagues report important new advances on a tunable metasurface, or flat optical device patterned with nanoscale structures, that they compare to a Swiss army knife while its passive predecessor can be thought of as just one tool, like a flat-bladed screwdriver. Key to the work is a transparent material discovered by the team that quickly and reversibly changes its atomic structure in response to heat.

"The applications opened up by the ability to quickly reconfigure metasurfaces are enormous," says Yifei Zhang, first author of a paper reporting the latest advances in a recent issue of Nature Nanotechnology. Lincoln Laboratory researchers Jeffrey B. Chou, Christopher M. Roberts, and Vladimir Liberman are also authors on the paper.