The UT scientists previously developed a technique for sending light through highly scattering substances like paint or biological tissue. Under normal circumstances, light barely passes because it is internally reflected many times, by the numerous nano particles of the material. Shaping the incident light in a smart way, it will find its way to the ‘exit’. This technique, called wavefront shaping, already has a huge impact on optics and already was in the top 10 of most promising new developments of the American Institute of Physics.
Experimental setup with two cameras, measuring the transmitted light (on the right) and reflected light (below left)
Using the technique, a pattern of bright and less bright speckles appear. Enhancing the intensity of one single speckle, has an effect on the surrounding area, research now shows: the surrounding area also has an enhanced intensity. At the same time, the amount of light that is reflected – that leaves the material on the other side – diminishes. Inside the layer an energy redistribution seems to take place, as if the transmitted and reflected light speckles talk to each other.
First experimental proof
The next interesting question is: will reflection be suppressed in a wide area? Or exclusively in the area in which the intensity of transmitted light is higher, around that single enhanced speckle? The remarkable result is that reflection only diminishes in the area optimized by wavefront shaping. This implies a new type of correlation between transmitted and reflected light. A recent publication predicted this correlation, but the UT scientists now experimentally prove it for the first time.
Enhanced light pattern.
This new knowledge can lead to better energy harvesting using solar cells: with less reflection and more transmission, the efficiency can be improved. Light manipulation can also be used in very secure optical communication. In medical imaging, sharper images are possible even through opaque tissue.
The research has been done within the Complex Photonics group, part of UT’s MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology.