From the press release:
Researchers at Purdue University and Stanford University believe they have found a novel laser light sensing technology that is more robust and less expensive than is currently available with a wide range of uses, including a way to guide fully autonomous vehicles.
The researchers say their innovation is orders of magnitude faster than conventional leading-edge laser beam steering devices that use phased antenna-array technology. The laser beam steering being tested and used by Purdue and Stanford is based on light-matter interaction between a silicon-based metasurface and short light pulses produced for example by a mode-locked laser with a frequency-comb spectrum. Such a beam-steering device can scan a large angle of view in nanoseconds or picoseconds compared with the microseconds current technology takes.
“This technology is far less complex and uses less power than existing technologies,” said Amr Shaltout, a post-doctoral research fellow in Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford who conceived the idea for the method. “The technology merges two different fields of nanophotonic metasurfaces and ultrafast optics.”
Shaltout said the use of photonic metasurfaces was key to the new advancement. He said metasurfaces provide simple, compact and power efficient solutions to photonics design. The combination of those two technologies provide a much simpler approach.
This could be very important.