About the Project
The aim of this project is the development of optical metasurfaces, (ultimate goal is a metasurfaces based spatial light modulator), optimized for the generation of high-resolution and dynamic, colour holograms for augmented reality applications, with hologram pattern provided by the proprietary software developed by VividQ. As such it addresses an important aspect of industrial use of visualization and image reproduction.
Several key question will be addressed during this project.
1) The generation of high-resolution (4k and above) holograms from optical metasurfaces with a wide field of view and operating distance suitable for augmented reality headsets. This will require close coordination with VividQ, both through the provision of phase mask used for the hologram generation and in determining the required working parameters.
2) The generation of metasurfaces suitable for full colour (RGB operation) operation, while maintaining 4k resolution capability and the required field of view.
3) Dynamic tuning of a holographic metasurfaces mimicking spatial light modulator capability for colour holograms, with targeted refresh rates above 1kHz. Exact requirements again to be determined in collaboration with industrial supervisor and optimized for VividQ.
The novelty in this project lies in the use of a tuneable metasurfaces as the reflective element encoding the computer generated hologram and the development of such a device. Previous metasurfaces for holograms tend to be static or giving different output for different illumination (e.g. different input polarizations). While useful for applications such as anti-counterfeiting these are not suitable for the dynamic display of rapidly changing holograms needed for augmented reality applications.
Another novelty lies in the development of a high-resolution (4K), metasurfaces, which is beyond the capability of current holographic metasurfaces.
Optical metasurfaces can be used to impart an almost arbitrary phase distribution to an incident optical beam, depending on the arrangement and dimensions of the constituent meta-atoms. VividQ are specializing in real time generation of such phase masks for computer generated holographic displays, optimized for augmented reality applications. During this project the student will design meta-atoms for the generation of holograms in the visible spectral region using tools such as Finite-Difference Time-Domain and Finite-Element methods.
Metasurfaces will be fabricated by the student in the cleanroom facilities of the University of St Andrews, using electron beam lithography and either lift-off or reactive ion etching for pattern transfer and characterized in the optical characterization labs of the nanophotonics research group
To provide tuneability of the metasurfaces the phase response of each meta-atom must be engineered, through the inclusion of phase change or nonlinear optical materials (such as epsilon-near-zero materials). These will be deposited in the cleanroom in the University of St Andrews (again by the student) using a variety of deposition tools (sputter, Atomic layer deposition as well as evaporation are all available) and characterized using electron microscopes, ellipsometry and optical characterization.
The student will be embedded in the Nanophotonics group in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews. The group has access to the cleanroom and nanofabrication facilities of the School and has a large suite of laboratories to characterise optical metasurfaces and nanophotonic devices, from the visible to the infrared range. The School of Physics and Astronomy has a >100 strong cohort of Photonics staff and research students and its facilities include two cleanrooms, mechanical and electronic workshop. The project will be a unique opportunity to acquire advanced nanofabrication skills and apply them to the development of next generation augmented reality devices, based on computer generated holography software and methods developed within VividQ.
The School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of St Andrews has Juno Champion status (Institute of Physics) which reflects its commitment to family friendly policies and creating a work environment of benefit to all staff and students.
CDT Essential Criteria
A Masters level degree (MEng, MPhys, MSc) at 2.1 or equivalent.
Working knowledge of at least one programming language (MatLAB, Python, C, C++, C#, Java)
Good oral and written communication
Interest in collaboration and technology commercialization
Project Desirable Criteria
A background in photonics, electronics or nanofabrication is desirable.
The CDT in Applied Photonics provides a supportive, collaborative environment which values inclusivity and is committed to creating and sustaining a positive and supportive environment for all our applicants, students, and staff. For further information, please see our ED&I statement https://bit.ly/3gXrcwg. Forming a supportive cohort is an important part of the programme and our students take part in various professional skills workshops, including Responsible Research and Innovation workshops and attend Outreach Training.