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Nat Mater. 2006 Jul;5(7):532-6. Epub 2006 Jun 25.

Large-scale optical-field measurements with geometric fibre constructs.

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Research Laboratory of Electronics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Optical fields are measured using sequential arrangements of optical components such as lenses, filters, and beam splitters in conjunction with planar arrays of point detectors placed on a common axis. All such systems are constrained in terms of size, weight, durability and field of view. Here a new, geometric approach to optical-field measurements is presented that lifts some of the aforementioned limitations and, moreover, enables access to optical information on unprecedented length and volume scales. Tough polymeric photodetecting fibres drawn from a preform are woven into light-weight, low-optical-density, two- and three-dimensional constructs that measure the amplitude and phase of an electromagnetic field on very large areas. First, a three-dimensional spherical construct is used to measure the direction of illumination over 4pi steradians. Second, an intensity distribution is measured by a planar array using a tomographic algorithm. Finally, both the amplitude and phase of an optical wave front are acquired with a dual-plane construct. Hence, the problem of optical-field measurement is transformed from one involving the choice and placement of lenses and detector arrays to that of designing geometrical constructions of polymeric, light-sensitive fibres.

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