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Quantum marbles in a bowl of light

An international study shows which factors determine the speed limit for quantum computations

Which factors determine how fast a quantum computer can perform its calculations? Physicists at the University of Bonn and the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology have devised an elegant experiment to answer this question. The results of the study are published in the journal Science Advances.

Quantum computers are highly sophisticated machines that rely on the principles of quantum mechanics to process information. This should enable them to handle certain problems in the future that are completely unsolvable for conventional computers. But even for quantum computers, fundamental limits apply to the amount of data they can process in a given time.

Quantum gates require a minimum time

The information stored in conventional computers can be thought of as a long sequence of zeros and ones, the bits. In quantum mechanics it is different: The information is stored in quantum bits (qubits), which resemble a wave rather than a series of discrete values. Physicists also speak of wave functions when they want to precisely represent the information contained in qubits.

The team of the University of Bonn with Dr. Manolo Rivera Lam (left), Prof. Dr. Dieter Meschede (center) and Dr. Andrea Alberti (right). Photo: Volker Lannert/University of Bonn

In a traditional computer, information is linked together by so-called gates. Combining several gates allows elementary calculations, such as the addition of two bits. Information is processed in a very similar way in quantum computers, where quantum gates change the wave function according to certain rules.

Quantum gates resemble their traditional relatives in another respect: “Even in the quantum world, gates do not work infinitely fast,” explains Dr. Andrea Alberti of the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn. “They require a minimum amount of time to transform the wave function and the information this contains.”

Quantum marbles in a bowl of light

Alberti-Quantenmurmeln.jpg: Quantum marbles in action – an artistic illustration of a matter wave rolling down a steep potential hill. Image: Enrique Sahagún – Scixel

More than 70 years ago, Soviet physicists Leonid Mandelstam and Igor Tamm deduced theoretically this minimum time for transforming the wave function. Physicists at the University of Bonn and the Technion have now investigated this Mandelstam-Tamm limit for the first time with an experiment on a complex quantum system. To do this, they used cesium atoms that moved in a highly controlled manner. “In the experiment, we let individual atoms roll down like marbles in a light bowl and observe their motion,” explains Alberti, who led the experimental study.

Atoms can be described quantum mechanically as matter waves. During the journey to the bottom of the light bowl, their quantum information changes. The researchers now wanted to know when this “deformation” could be identified at the earliest. This time would then be the experimental proof of the Mandelstam-Tamm limit. The problem with this, however, is that in the quantum world, every measurement of the atom’s position inevitably changes the matter wave in an unpredictable way. So, it always looks like the marble has deformed, no matter how quickly the measurement is made. “We therefore devised a different method to detect the deviation from the initial state,” Alberti says.

For this purpose, the researchers began by producing a clone of the matter wave, in other words an almost exact twin. “We used fast light pulses to create a so-called quantum superposition of two states of the atom,” explains Gal Ness, a doctoral student at the Technion and first author of the study. “Figuratively speaking, the atom behaves as if it had two different colors at the same time.” Depending on the color, each atom twin takes a different position in the light bowl: One is high up on the edge and “rolls” down from there. The other, conversely, is already at the bottom of the bowl. This twin does not move – after all, it cannot roll up the walls and so does not change its wave function.

The physicists compared the two clones at regular intervals. They did this using a technique called quantum interference, which allows differences in waves to be detected very precisely. This enabled them to determine after what time a significant deformation of the matter wave first occurred.

Two factors determine the speed limit

The Technion team with Gal Ness (left) and Prof. Yoav Sagi (right). Photo: Rami Shlush/Technion

By varying the height above the bottom of the bowl at the start of the experiment, the physicists were also able to control the average energy of the atom. Average because, in principle, the amount cannot be determined exactly. The “position energy” of the atom is therefore always uncertain. “We were able to demonstrate that the minimum time for the matter wave to change depends on this energy uncertainty,” says Professor Yoav Sagi, who led the partner team at Technion: “The greater the uncertainty, the shorter the Mandelstam-Tamm time.”

This is exactly what the two Soviet physicists had predicted. But there was also a second effect: If the energy uncertainty was increased more and more until it exceeded the average energy of the atom, then the minimum time did not decrease further – contrary to what the Mandelstam-Tamm limit would actually suggest. The physicists thus proved a second speed limit, which was theoretically discovered about 20 years ago. The ultimate speed limit in the quantum world is therefore determined not only by the energy uncertainty, but also by the mean energy.

“It is the first time that both quantum speed boundaries could be measured for a complex quantum system, and even in a single experiment,” Alberti enthuses. Future quantum computers may be able to solve problems rapidly, but they too will be constrained by these fundamental limits.

The study was funded by the Reinhard Frank Foundation (in collaboration with the German Technion Society), The German Research Foundation (DFG), the Helen Diller Quantum Center at the Technion, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Click here for the paper in Science Advances


Innovative Developments in Energy and Sustainability

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Grand Technion Energy Program Annual Research Day: Innovative Developments in Energy and Sustainability

The Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) held its annual Research Day on December 15, 2021. According to Professor Yoed Tsur, GTEP director, “GTEP’s mission is to advance research and to promote multidisciplinary cooperation in sustainable energy related fields on campus. This year, in addition to GTEP’s direct students, we invited all Technion graduate students who conduct energy related research to participate and present a poster. We are proud of the students’ impressive achievements.”

During the event, graduate students presented their research on posters, and three lectures were given:

  • Green hydrogen production using innovative technology – Professor Avner Rothschild, from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, presented the innovative technology developed together with Professor Gideon Grader from the Faculty of Chemical Engineering that led to the establishment of the H2Pro start-up.
  • Innovative flow batteries– This presentation explained research by Ph.D. student Rona Ronen-Manukovsky, under the supervision of Associate Professor Matthew Suss from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.
  • Impact on porous medium through flow pressures–Research byM.Sc. student Arnold Bachrach ,under the supervision of Dr.Yaniv Edery from the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering, was covered in this presentation.
L-R: Inbal Offen-Polak, Eliyahu Farber, Rona Ronen-Manukovsky, Emma Massasa and Joseph (Joey) Cassell

The first-prize winners in the poster competition were:

Eliyahu Farber, who developed new methods for the precise production of porous carbon materials. These materials are relevant to a wide spectrum of applications including batteries, supercapacitors, and fuel cells.

Inbal Offen-Polak develops low cost catalysts for urea oxidation – a useful process with applications in water treatment, hydrogen production, and even fuel cells.

Both Eliyahu and Inbal are GTEP Ph.D. students, conducting their research under the supervision of Professor David Eisenberg from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry.

Second prize was awarded to two Ph.D. students:

Emma Massasa from the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering, under the supervision of Assistant Professor Yehonadav Bekenstein, developed a method for improving properties of proboscites – new materials used in the production of solar energy.

Rona Ronen-Manukovsky from GTEP, who is developing energy storage solutions of a significant size, under the supervision of Associate Professor Matthew Suss from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering.

The Best M.Sc. Poster Award category was won by GTEP graduate student Joseph(Joey) Cassell, who developed technology for producing solar energy under the supervision of Associate Professor Carmel Rotschild from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. Joey and the two first-prize Ph.D. students, Eliyahu and Inbal, will represent GTEP with their research at the Technion’s Jacobs Graduate School Research Day on January 19, 2022.

Group Photo


Age-Old Phenomenon that Doesn’t Actually Exist

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Age-Old Phenomenon that Doesn’t Actually Exist

Technion scientist finds the key to a hitherto unexplained phenomenon in catalysis – the mystery of structure insensibility

Some reactions are structure-sensitive (the surface-normalized catalytic activity changes with catalyst particle size) while others seem to be structure-insensitive (the surface-normalized catalytic activity does not change with catalyst particle size). Vogt and coworkers now explain why the latter is seen; the nanoparticles restructure exposing only certain specific sites.

Catalysis is responsible for 95% of industrial chemical processes, and directly affects more than 1/3 of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). What is catalysis? It is the process increasing the rate of a chemical reaction; “helping it” – achieved by means of a catalyst – a “starter”. The catalyst is not consumed by the reaction, nor changed by it, and can keep on “helping” indefinitely (although in practice catalysts can deactivate in seconds to years). It can be likened to a bossy matchmaker, bringing couples together.

Many catalysts are made up of nanoparticles on a support, which can have varied structures. A smaller particle has more irregular surfaces, with peaks and valleys, and displays more atoms “sticking out”. A larger particle would have more flat areas. The nanoparticle’s shape and size should affect how effective they are at catalyzing a reaction, depending on whether the reaction needs the peaks and valleys or the flat surfaces. Except sometimes the shape appears to have absolutely no effect – no matter whether the particles are big or small, the reaction occurs at the same rate. This is called “structure insensitivity”. It is a phenomenon that is empirically observed, but for a long time it remained unexplained. It had already been theoretically accepted that it should not exist. Now, Prof. Charlotte Vogt from the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry at the Technion, together with an international team of scientists, has found the answer.

Prof. Charlotte Vogt

Prof. Vogt used advanced characterization methods, including particle accelerators and quick spectroscopy to discover that the reactions indeed only appear to be structure insensitive. In truth, what happens is that the catalyst nanoparticle undergoes rapid restructuring. It changes its shape, and displays not the expected “flat surfaces”, but peaks and valleys, leaving only specific reactive sites exposed. The process is so fast, that without the novel technology, and smart experimental design, it could not have been observed.

The study was a collaboration between the Technion, Utrecht University, Eindhoven University, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Stony Brook University, and the Paul Scherrer Institute. It was recently published in Nature Communications.


One of the big challenges society faces in this century is to make our fuels, materials, and chemicals from fossil-fuel alternatives, such as perhaps carbon dioxide, or biomass waste.

Catalysis plays such an important role in nearly every industry; it is easy to see how understanding catalysts and improving them can have a significant impact. Prof. Vogt explains: “I believe the key to a greener, more sustainable future lies in better catalysts. Imagine, for example, turning CO2 into useful compounds. It sounds like science fiction. The truth is, such a process is theoretically possible, but it is not yet energy efficient. Right now, it would create more pollution than it would save. If, however we could lower the amount of energy required, or if we would be able to tune the catalyst to make specific products, if we could find catalysts that would make these things easier, suddenly it would become feasible. Remember, acid rain used to be a problem we talked about even two decades ago; and now we no longer do. It was solved, using catalysts.”

Prof. Vogt, aged 30, was born in the Netherlands. She arrived in Israel for her Ph.D., and to use her words, fell in love with the country. “This place is amazing,” she says. “I love the sun, the beaches, the food, the vibrant society. I love how open and warm people are. I was made to feel very welcome here. There’s another aspect too: you value family, but also a modern lifestyle; as a woman, I’m not expected here to choose between a career and a family – I can have both.”

As a scientist too, Prof. Vogt is happy. “There is a culture of search for knowledge here,” she says. “I love applied science, but in my view to truly make an impact, you have to base that on fundamental research. In Israel, that is appreciated, and also funded. I am grateful for bodies like the Israel Science Foundation, which fund research without immediately demanding practical goals. They allow scientists to “play around” with ideas and experiments and make new discoveries. These discoveries are the basis of break-through technological developments in time. It is the difference between going into a room with the purpose of finding a particular tool, and simply going into the same room to explore what’s there. In the first scenario, you’ll find the tool you’re looking for, and only that. In the second, you might find something so much better! That’s the difference between incremental improvements – which are also important – and true scientific breakthroughs.” Of the students in Israel she says, “they come to me with ideas – they don’t wait around to be told what to do.” And the infrastructure is also what she needs. “I used to have to fly from the Netherlands to the US to do some of my experiments,” she explains. “Now I’m going to have almost all the equipment I need next door, for example at the Sarah and Moshe Zisapel nanoelectronics center.”

Operando spectroscopy, characterizing catalysts while they are working, forms the basis of the research in Vogt’s group.

In 2019, Prof. Vogt won the Israel Vacuum Society (IVS) award for “outstanding early-career achievements”. This year, she was included in the Forbes 30 under 30 Europe, and received the Clara Immerwahr Award  – an award for promoting equity and excellence in catalysis research, fostering young female scientists at an early stage of their career. She opened the Catalysis for Fuels of the Future Laboratory at the Schulich Faculty of Chemistry and joined the Grand Technion Energy Program (GTEP) in March 2021. She now looks to study catalytic reactions in all the complexity involved in their real-life applications, elucidate the mechanism of varied reactions, and apply this knowledge to help to design new catalysts and better processes to abate climate change.

Click here for the paper in Nature Communication



Technion Students Cook Up Creative, Tasty, and Award-winning Food Solutions in European Innovation Competition

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Technion Students Cook Up Creative, Tasty, and Award-winning Food Solutions in European Innovation Competition

 Three groups of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology students recently won an international competition to develop healthy food based on natural ingredients.

The students from the Technion’s Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering won top prizes in the EU-supported Food Solutions Project, which is part of EIT FOOD – a program that fosters innovation to create healthy and sustainable food for all. The premise of the competition was to take real-world nutritional and sustainability challenges faced by the food industry and come up with innovative solutions with the potential to transform the food system and promote sustainability and health. Experts and mentors from top European universities supervised the student’s progress, together with leading companies Nestle, Danone-Nutricia, Döhler, IMDEA and Puratos.  Two of the Technion teams won first place and another came in third.

“This win wraps up a whole year of hard work,” said faculty members and mentors Dr. Maya Davidovich-Pinhas, Professor Uri Lesmes, and Professor Avi Shpigelman. “This achievement demonstrates the excellence of students in this faculty, not only in the engineering and technological aspects, but also creatively and in their ability to deal with all aspects of the process from market research, creating a business feasibility study, addressing regulatory and marketing issues, conducting shelf-life analysis, planning the commercial manufacturing process, and of course presenting their product to experts.”

From right to left, front row: Dr. Maya Davidovich-Pinhas, Hadar Kochavi, Christine Oviad, Professor Marcelle Machluf, Nova Neumann, Carolina Lejterer, Maayan Ben-David, Gil Raphael and Liora Bernstein; middle row: Dor Abu Hazira and Professor Avi Shpigelman; back row: Shahar Hefner, Dana Raz, Linor Rochlin, Shlomit Hakim, Victoria Skortov and Professor Uri Lesmes

This year, the Technion’s participating teams chose to tackle two challenges:

  1. ‘GrOAT’: creating an innovative, healthy, and sustainable product using an oat-based ingredient (a challenge presented by the Finnish company Myllyn Paras, which invests considerable resources in “plant-based innovation”)
  2. FoodFE’: (Food for the Elderly): Designing novel food products for the elderly that address the issue of loss of taste, palatability, and efficiency of nutrient uptake.

Once the teams had formed, they spent around six months developing their product from ideation to final product and presentation. The process involved attempts to assess product manufacturing at the Technion’s food pilot plant under the guidance and extensive mentoring of the three faculty members, and support from senior industry representatives. The students also consulted with chefs at Bishulim – Tel Aviv’s culinary school – who helped refine and resolve some of the culinary aspects.

Bioat’s vegan labane

The Bioat Group won first place for developing a vegan “labane” cheese spread based on fermenting the oat ingredient and dietary fiber. The team was not only awarded first place by the professional judges, but also came in first in the crowd favorite category. All four team members are graduate students: Maayan Ben-David, Liora Bernstein, Carolina Lejterer, and Gil Raphael. They explained that “we have worked in product development, experienced ups and downs and overcome many challenges on the way from taste and texture to product safety. We are proud of the result and happy to contribute to the global challenge of developing sustainable substitutes for dairy products.” According to the judges, the taste was unique and delicious, and employees from a company with origins in the Middle East gave it the authentic stamp of approval by claiming that the taste was very close to the original labane they were familiar with.

The concept for the product came about when one of the team members was on maternity leave and looking for dairy-free alternatives while nursing her new baby. Her search exposed a big gap in the market for healthy and tasty dairy-free products and so the idea for Bioat was born.

CRACKEAT team with their supervisors – from right to left – top row: Linor Rochlin, Victoria Skortov, Shlomit Hakim, Professor Uri Lesmes. Bottom row: Professor Avi Shpigelman, Dor Abu Hazira, Hadar Kochavi and Dr. Maya Davidovich-Pinhas

The CRACKEAT Group won first place in the Food Products Challenge for the Elderly, keeping in mind their struggles with obesity, diabetes, and nutritional requirements. The team came up with a soy-based, creamy treat with a crisp cookie on top. The product was praised by the judges for its unique presentation and taste. The final product provides a complex experience of different textures, while also being more environmentally friendly than current packaging solutions. It is high in protein and fiber, sugar-free, and low in saturated fat. CRACKEAT went through many taste tests among its target population who gave it the thumbs up for taste and texture. Members of the group were Dor Abu Hazira, Shlomit Hakim, Hadar Kochavi, Victoria Skortov, and Linor Rochlin.

LiteDelight – a vegan and low-calorie personalized chocolate cake based on natural ingredients

Coming in third place in the Food Products Challenge for the Elderly was another group from the faculty – Shahar Hefner, Nova Neumann, Christine Oviad, and Dana Raz. The four developed Lite Delight, a unique nutritional snack based solely on natural ingredients and tailored to the needs and desires of the senior population. The product offers something chewy but not too chewy that is portable and tasty. The individual brownie-like cake bar was praised for its soft, fluffy texture, combined with a sweet taste and no added sugar. It went through many rounds of rigorous taste testing among its target audiences that resulted in a winning ginger-orange flavor.

LiteDelight team – from right to left: Shahar Hefner, Christine Oviad, Nova Neumann and Dana Raz

The Proof is in the Pudding

Due to covid restrictions, the groups did not fly to Europe to present their products but sent them by courier to the judges so that they could taste them firsthand, having already impressed them with their innovative ideas and business plans. The judges praised Bioat, CRACKEAT, and Lite Delight for their quality and congratulated the teams on their professionalism and attention to detail on their packaging and branding.

From right to left; back row – Faculty Dean and Professor Marcelle Machluf, Dr. Maya Davidovich-Pinhas, Professor Uri Lesmes and Professor Avi Shpigelman/ Front row: The Bioat Group – Liora Bernstein, Carolina Lejterer, Gil Raphael and Maayan Ben-David

The teams’ wins are the latest in a string of student victories from the Faculty of Biotechnology and Food Engineering in similar EIT FOOD competitions. In 2018, a Technion team won first place with Algalafel – a spirulina-enriched falafel – and in 2020, the Microbes Team won the top spot  for its biological solution for preventing fruit juice from spoiling, a phenomenon whose damages are estimated at tens of billions of dollars a year.





Success in Engineering an Ear!

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The Future is Here: Technion Researchers and Sheba Medical Center Have Succeeded in Engineering an Ear

Technology developed by the Technion and Sheba Medical Center enables the fabrication of customized implants for the rehabilitation of auricular malformation

Researchers at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and Sheba Medical Center have developed an efficient technology for the fabrication of custom-made functional aesthetic implants for the rehabilitation of congenitally deformed ears.

Microtia is a birth defect that occurs when the external ear fails to develop normally, and as a result, is small and improperly formed. Microtia occurs in 0.1 to 0.3 percent of births. Occasionally, besides the aesthetic issue, microtia also involves hearing loss.

Visual demonstrating the research process

Since the “bones” of the outer ear – the auricle – are in fact flexible cartilage and not bone tissue, the customary technique for microtia reconstruction is to use costal cartilage harvested from the patient’s chest. This method involves pain and discomfort as well as risk of further complications. Moreover, constructing an ear that is identical to the other one depends on both the surgeon’s creativity and high-level surgical skills.

Prof. Shulamit Levenberg

The journal Biofabrication reported the Israeli researchers’ breakthrough, which was achieved through a collaborative project between Professor Shulamit Levenberg of the Faculty of Biomedical Engineering at the Technion and Dr. Shay Izhak Duvdevani, a senior physician in the Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery Department and Head of the Tissue Engineering Lab at Sheba Medical Center.

In the current study, the researchers applied new technologies for tissue engineering, developed in Prof.  Levenberg’s lab under the leadership of Dr. Shira Landau, to fabricate a biodegradable auricle scaffold that formed stable, custom-made neocartilage implants.

Dr. Shay Izhak Duvdevani

The unique scaffold, which allows for the formation of an aesthetic and stable auricle, is 3D-printed and based on a CT scan. It is biodegradable and forms chondrocytes – the cells responsible for cartilage formation – and mesenchymal stem cells. The scaffold has pores of varying sizes, allowing for cell attachment to form stable cartilage.

According to the researchers, engineering an auricle from the patient’s own cells will reduce the suffering and risk caused to children as a result of harvesting their costal cartilage. Furthermore, it will allow the surgery to be performed on children as young as six years old, rather than the currently accepted practice of waiting until they are ten. Performing the surgery at a younger age is likely to mitigate the psychological effects of microtia on children.

The researchers monitored cartilage formation within the auricle construct in the lab for between 10 days and 6 weeks, and then implanted it in a murine model. The outcome: Graft integration was successful, and the prosthetic ear demonstrated good biomechanical function.

According to Prof. Levenberg, “One of the challenges in the study was to find a suitable 3D printing method, since fabricating an ear necessitates the use of biodegradable materials that break down in the body without harming it but have an extremely accurate external structure and small pores. We demonstrated all of this in the present research, and estimate that it will be possible to tailor our technology to other applications, such as nasal reconstruction and fabrication of various orthopedic implants.”

Dr. Duvdevani added that, “In the present study, we achieved a significant breakthrough by means of the integration of medicine and research and collaboration between doctors and researchers. This research is another milestone in the transition to advanced technologies in medicine, where the use of 3D printing and tissue engineering will play a significant part and provide patients with an optimal, state-of-the-art response.”

Click here for the article in Biofabrication.

Researchers Fabricate Complex Optical Components from Fluids

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Researchers Fabricate Complex Optical Components from Fluids

Inexpensive, fast method to make freeform optics could benefit applications from eyewear to telescopes

Lenses made by shaping fluids

WASHINGTON — Researchers have developed a way to create freeform optical components by shaping a volume of curable liquid polymer. The new method is poised to enable faster prototyping of customized optical components for a variety of applications including corrective lenses, augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, medical imaging and astronomy.

Common devices such as eyeglasses or cameras rely on lenses – optical components with spherical or cylindrical surfaces, or slight deviations from such shapes. However, more advanced optical functionalities can be obtained from surfaces with complex topographies. Currently, fabricating such freeform optics is very difficult and expensive because of the specialized equipment required to mechanically process and polish their surfaces.

L-R : Omer Luria, Professor Moran Bercovici and Mor Elgarisi

“Our approach to making freeform optics achieves extremely smooth surfaces and can be implemented using basic equipment that can be found in most labs,” said research team leader Moran Bercovici from the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. “This makes the technology very accessible, even in low resource settings.”

In Optica, Optica Publishing Group’s journal for high-impact research, Bercovici and colleagues show that their new technique can be used to fabricate freeform components with sub-nanometer surface roughness in just minutes. Unlike other prototyping methods such as 3D printing, the fabrication time remains short even if the volume of the manufactured component increases.

“Currently, optical engineers pay tens of thousands of dollars for specially designed freeform components and wait months for them to arrive,” said Omer Luria, one of the contributors to the paper. “Our technology is poised to radically decrease both the waiting time and the cost of complex optical prototypes, which could greatly speed up the development of new optical designs.”

From eyeglasses to complex optics

Dr. Valeri Frumkin

The researchers decided to develop the new method after learning that 2.5 billion people around the world don’t have access to corrective eyewear. “We set out to find a simple method for fabricating high quality optical components that does not rely on mechanical processing or complex and expensive infrastructure,” said Valeri Frumkin, who first developed the method in Bercovici’s lab. “We then discovered that we could expand our method to produce much more complex and interesting optical topographies.”

One of the primary challenges in making optics by curing a liquid polymer is that for optics larger than about 2 millimeters, gravity dominates over surface forces, which causes the liquid to flatten into a puddle. To overcome this, the researchers developed a way to fabricate lenses using liquid polymer that is submerged in another liquid. The buoyancy counteracts gravity, allowing surface tension to dominate.

With gravity out of the picture, the researchers could fabricate smooth optical surfaces by controlling the surface topography of the lens liquid. This entails injecting the lens liquid into a supportive frame so that the lens liquid wets the inside of the frame and then relaxes into a stable configuration. Once the required topography is achieved, the lens liquid can be solidified by UV exposure or other methods to complete the fabrication process.

Lenses made by shaping fluids

After using the liquid fabrication method to make simple spherical lenses, the researchers expanded to optical components with various geometries — including toroid and trefoil shapes — and sizes up to 200 mm. They show that the resulting lenses exhibited surface qualities similar to the best polishing technologies available while being orders of magnitude quicker and simpler to make. In the work published in Optica, they further expanded the method to create freeform surfaces, by modifying the shape of the supportive frame.

Infinite possibilities

Mor Elgarisi

“We identified an infinite range of possible optical topographies that can be fabricated using our approach,” said Mor Elgarisi, the paper’s lead author. “The method can be used to make components of any size, and because liquid surfaces are naturally smooth, no polishing is required. The approach is also compatible with any liquid that can be solidified and has the advantage of not producing any waste.”

The researchers are now working to automate the fabrication process so that various optical topographies can be made in a precise and repeatable way. They are also experimenting with various optical polymers to find out which ones produce the best optical components.

Click here for the paper in Optica

Click here for video demonstrating the research

About Optica

Optica is an open-access journal dedicated to the rapid dissemination of high-impact peer-reviewed research across the entire spectrum of optics and photonics. Published monthly by Optica Publishing Group, the Journal provides a forum for pioneering research to be swiftly accessed by the international community, whether that research is theoretical or experimental, fundamental or applied. Optica maintains a distinguished editorial board of more than 60 associate editors from around the world and is overseen by Editor-in-Chief Prem Kumar, Northwestern University, USA. For more information, visit Optica.

About Optica Publishing Group (formerly OSA)

Optica Publishing Group is a division of Optica, the society advancing optics and photonics worldwide.  It publishes the largest collection of peer-reviewed content in optics and photonics, including 18 prestigious journals, the society’s flagship member magazine, and papers from more than 835 conferences, including 6,500+ associated videos. With over 400,000 journal articles, conference papers and videos to search, discover and access, Optica Publishing Group represents the full range of research in the field from around the globe.