Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

Analytical Instrumentation
Analytical Instrumentation
Optical Phase Shift Solution: Compact and Easy to Install
WARF: P170049US01

Inventors: Hongrui Jiang, Alireza Ousati Ashtiani

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking commercial partners interested in developing a tunable, wide-aperture optical phase shifter that is compatible with current imaging tools and inexpensive to manufacture.

This technology can be used in laser side band generation and in advanced imaging systems including phase-contrast microscopy and optical coherence tomography.

Overview
Optical phase tuning is highly desired in many precision and imaging tools used by industry, in medicine and in biological research. Various optical phase shifters (OPS) and methods exist, each with certain drawbacks. For example, fiber optic-based modulators suffer light loss, liquid crystal phase shifters are slow, and mirror-based systems require complex mechanical controls.

An improved OPS solution is needed to simplify and miniaturize optical systems.
The Invention
UW–Madison researchers have developed an innovative OPS that delivers tunable optical phase shifting with a wide aperture. Unlike many electro-optic modulators, its liquid-based design makes it a versatile candidate for many imaging devices.

The shifter consists of two immiscible liquid layers with different refractive indices. Between the two liquids is a rigid membrane that moves freely along the optical axis. When pressure alters the thicknesses of the liquid layers, it induces an optical path difference, resulting in a phase shift.
Applications
  • Optics instrumentation and imaging systems
    • Phase-contrast microscopy
    • Optical coherence tomography
    • Laser side band generation
Key Benefits
  • Easily adjusts the optical phase of light propagating through a sample with a desired path length
  • Compact and easy to install
  • Compatible with current imaging tools
  • Inexpensive to manufacture
Stage of Development
A prototype has been developed and can achieve a maximum phase shift of 180 degrees (the threshold for phase shift devices).
Additional Information
For More Information About the Inventors
For current licensing status, please contact Mark Staudt at [javascript protected email address] or 608-960-9845

WARF