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Megahertz Light Steering Without Moving Parts

Adithya Pediredla · Srinivasa G. Narasimhan · Maysamreza Chamanzar · Ioannis Gkioulekas

West Building Exhibit Halls ABC 001


We introduce a light steering technology that operates at megahertz frequencies, has no moving parts, and costs less than a hundred dollars. Our technology can benefit many projector and imaging systems that critically rely on high-speed, reliable, low-cost, and wavelength-independent light steering, including laser scanning projectors, LiDAR sensors, and fluorescence microscopes. Our technology uses ultrasound waves to generate a spatiotemporally-varying refractive index field inside a compressible medium, such as water, turning the medium into a dynamic traveling lens. By controlling the electrical input of the ultrasound transducers that generate the waves, we can change the lens, and thus steer light, at the speed of sound (1.5 km/s in water). We build a physical prototype of this technology, use it to realize different scanning techniques at megahertz rates (three orders of magnitude faster than commercial alternatives such as galvo mirror scanners), and demonstrate proof-of-concept projector and LiDAR applications. To encourage further innovation towards this new technology, we derive the theory for its fundamental limits and develop a physically-accurate simulator for virtual design. Our technology offers a promising solution for achieving high-speed and low-cost light steering in a variety of applications.

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