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Metasurface optofluidics for dynamic control of light fields


The ability to manipulate light and liquids on integrated optofluidics chips has spurred a myriad of important developments in biology, medicine, chemistry and display technologies. Here we show how the convergence of optofluidics and metasurface optics can lead to conceptually new platforms for the dynamic control of light fields. We first demonstrate metasurface building blocks that display an extreme sensitivity in their scattering properties to their dielectric environment. These blocks are then used to create metasurface-based flat optics inside microfluidic channels where liquids with different refractive indices can be directed to manipulate their optical behaviour. We demonstrate the intensity and spectral tuning of metasurface colour pixels as well as on-demand optical elements. We finally demonstrate automated control in an integrated meta-optofluidic platform to open up new display functions. Combined with large-scale microfluidic integration, our dynamic-metasurface flat-optics platform could open up the possibility of dynamic display, imaging, holography and sensing applications.

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Fig. 1: A comprehensive dynamic-metasurface optofluidic platform.
Fig. 2: Mechanism of dynamic reflectivity and colour control in Si metasurfaces.
Fig. 3: Mechanism of dynamic diffraction efficiency control and spectral control of phased-array optics by Si geometric phase metasurfaces.
Fig. 4: Integration of dynamic metasurfaces with programmable microfluidics on a transparent substrate.

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Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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Q.L. thanks Z. Lyu for his help in the meta-hologram characterization. We acknowledge funding from AFOSR MURI grants (FA9550-17-1-0002 and FA9550-21-1-0312). P.M.F. is a Chan Zuckerberg Biohub Investigator.

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Authors and Affiliations



Q.L. and M.L.B. conceived the research idea. Q.L. built the analytical model and performed the design, fabrication and characterization of metasurfaces with input from J.v.d.G. J.-H.S. performed the poly-Si deposition and diffraction efficiency measurement. A.K.W. designed and fabricated the microfluidic cavities. S.A.L., A.K.W. and Q.L. conducted the microfluidic integration experiment. All the authors contributed to writing the manuscript. M.L.B. supervised the project.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mark L. Brongersma.

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Competing interests

Q.L., J.v.d.G., J.-H.S. and M.L.B. are inventors on three US patent provisional applications (63/2711343, 63/2711350 and 63/2711354) held and submitted by Stanford University that cover the use of metasurface optofluidics for the dynamic control of light fields. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Nature Nanotechnology thanks Justus Ndukaife and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–3, Figs. 1–8 and captions for Videos 1–3.

Supplementary Video 1

Modulation of an active meta-lens using HFE-7500 as a liquid cleaner.

Supplementary Video 2

Modulation of an active meta-lens using ethanol as a liquid cleaner.

Supplementary Video 3

Modulation of a metasurface digital number display. The video is sped up by 30 times for a better viewing experience.

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Li, Q., van de Groep, J., White, A.K. et al. Metasurface optofluidics for dynamic control of light fields. Nat. Nanotechnol. 17, 1097–1103 (2022).

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