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Diffraction pattern from a green laser passing through a wrinkling film of oil (for a video of the experiment click here).

Diffraction of white light by oil surface wrinkling
Nature Photon. 3 (2009) 403-405.

Voltage programmable optics: Liquid dielectrophoresis

When liquid travels from one material to another it usually changes direction. Lenses use this principle, but are usually made from glass or plastic. Solids do not easily change shape and so the strength of these optical devices are fixed by their manufacture.

Our experiments use liquids and shape their surfaces using a voltage to create liquid optical elements. These can be lenses using a droplet of oil or more complex diffractive devices to beam steer using a film of oil with a wrinkled surface or .


G. McHale, C.V. Brown, M.I. Newton, G.G. Wells and N. Sampara,
Developing interface localized liquid dielectrophoresis for optical applications,
Proc. SPIEE 8557 (2012) art. 855703. View reprint pdf

C.V. Brown, G.G. Wells, M.I. Newton and G. McHale,
Voltage-programmable liquid optical interface,
Nature Photonics 3 (7) (2009) 403-405. View postprint pdf (also see the Editor's interview)