Voltage-programmable liquid optical interface

Carl Brown, Gary Wells, Michael Newton, Glen McHale

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Recently, there has been intense interest in photonic devices based on microfluidics, including displays and refractive tunable microlenses and optical beamsteerers, that work using the principle of electrowetting. Here, we report a novel approach to optical devices in which static wrinkles are produced at the surface of a thin film of oil as a result of dielectrophoretic forces. We have demonstrated this voltage-programmable surface wrinkling effect in periodic devices with pitch lengths of between 20 and 240 µm and with response times of less than 40 µs. By a careful choice of oils, it is possible to optimize either for high-amplitude sinusoidal wrinkles at micrometre-scale pitches or more complex non-sinusoidal profiles with higher Fourier components at longer pitches. This opens up the possibility of developing rapidly responsive voltage-programmable, polarization-insensitive transmission and reflection diffraction devices and arbitrary surface profile optical devices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-405
JournalNature Photonics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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