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Ultrathin and Lightweight Achromatic Liquid-Crystal Optics for Enhanced Mixed Reality Displays

In the realm of mixed reality (MR), the potential for transforming our interaction with digital information is immense. MR platforms like Apple Vision Pro and Meta Quest Pro hold promise for applications in smart tourism, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, and beyond. To ensure a comfortable long-term user experience, it is crucial to improve the ergonomics of MR displays, making them more compact and lightweight.

A team of scientists led by Professor Shin-Tson Wu from the University of Central Florida has made strides in achieving this goal. In their recent publication in Light: Science & Applications, they introduce an ultrathin and lightweight achromatic diffractive liquid-crystal (LC) optics system. Unlike refractive optics that rely on optical path difference, the diffractive LC optics system produces desired phase patterns by satisfying the half-wave condition along the thickness direction.

While LC optics offer advantages such as high diffraction efficiency, easy fabrication, and dynamic switching, they suffer from severe chromatic aberration due to the wavelength-dependent diffraction angle. To overcome this challenge, the team proposed an achromatic LC optics system that utilizes three components with polarization selectivity. By carefully designing the transmission spectrum and phase pattern of each optical element, the system corrects for chromatic aberrations and achieves an achromatic lens system.

The concept was validated using both a laser projector and an organic light-emitting diode (OLED) display panel. The single LC lens exhibited noticeable chromatic aberrations, while the achromatic lens system demonstrated significantly improved color performance with suppressed chromatic aberrations. This breakthrough paves the way for more compact and versatile optical components that can find applications in MR-enabled smart transportation, cities, healthcare, and manufacturing.

The article is a valuable contribution to the advancement of MR displays, addressing the need for enhanced user comfort and interaction. The novel achromatic LC optics system offers potential solutions to longstanding challenges in chromatic aberration and opens doors for further innovation in the field.

Source: Zhenyi Luo et al, “Achromatic diffractive liquid-crystal optics for virtual reality displays.” Light: Science & Applications (2023).

Citation: Chinese Academy of Sciences. “Achromatic diffractive liquid-crystal optics for virtual reality displays.” Phys.org, 21 September 2023, https://phys.org/news/2023-09-achromatic-diffractive-liquid-crystal-optics-virtual.html.