We propose and demonstrate a reliable and inexpensive tool for optical characterization of photonics metamaterials and metasurfaces. Existing characterization methods of metamaterials (or more precisely negative index metamaterials), including conventional interferometry and ellipsometry, are rather complex and expensive.
The “measurable” difference between, for example, positive index materials and negative index materials is that the former introduces a phase delay to transmitted light beam and the latter one introduces a phase advance. Here, we propose to use optical vortex interferometry to directly “visualize” phase delay or phase advance.
In the proposed setup a laser beams at the wavelength of 633 nm is separated in two by a beam splitter. One beam is transmitted through a spiral phase plate in order to generate a beam with an orbital angular momentum, and the second beam is transmitted through a nanostructured sample. Two beams are subsequently recombined by a beam splitter to form spiral interferogram. Spiral patterns are then analyzed to determine phase shifts introduced by the sample. In order to demonstrate the efficiency of the proposed technique, we fabricated four metasurface samples consisting of metal nano-antennas introducing different phase shifts and experimentally measured phase shifts of the transmitted light using the proposed technique. The experimental results are in good agreement with numerical simulations.
In summary, we report a novel method to characterize metasurfaces and metamaterials using optical vortex interferometry. The proposed characterization approach is simple, reliable and particularly useful for fast and inexpensive characterization of phase properties introduced by metamaterials and metasurfaces.
We show that unique optical properties of metamaterials open unlimited prospects to “engineer” light itself. For example, we demonstrate a novel way of complex light manipulation in few-mode optical fibers using metamaterials highlighting how unique properties of metamaterials, namely the ability to manipulate both electric and magnetic field components, open new degrees of freedom in engineering complex polarization states of light. We discuss several approaches to ultra-compact structured light generation, including a nanoscale beam converter based on an ultra-compact array of nano-waveguides with a circular graded distribution of channel diameters that coverts a conventional laser beam into a vortex with configurable orbital angular momentum and a novel, miniaturized astigmatic optical element based on a single biaxial hyperbolic metamaterial that enables the conversion of Hermite-Gaussian beams into vortex beams carrying an orbital angular momentum and vice versa. Such beam converters is likely to enable a new generation of on-chip or all-fiber structured light applications. We also present our initial theoretical studies predicting that vortex-based nonlinear optical processes, such as second harmonic generation or parametric amplification that rely on phase matching, will also be strongly modified in negative index materials. These studies may find applications for multidimensional information encoding, secure communications, and quantum cryptography as both spin and orbital angular momentum could be used to encode information; dispersion engineering for spontaneous parametric down-conversion; and on-chip optoelectronic signal processing.