Proposals from CREOL Professor Shin-Tson Wu, Ph.D., to slim down and evolve augmented and virtual reality displays are the subject of a new feature in Light: Science and Applications.

The article details how to take advantage of the recent development of miniaturized optical devices. These advancements offer unique opportunities in the ongoing challenge of evolving AR/VR displays, including “dynamic tunability, multiplexing ability and large degree of design freedoms.”

To date, researchers have struggled to match user expectations for satisfying AR/VR experiences and lighter, sleeker equipment. New developments however, in the areas of holographic optical elements (HOEs), surface relief grating, metasurface and micro light-emitting diodes (micro-LEDs) promise to meet those challenges.

One proposal is novel folding optical structures like pancake optics and waveguide displays that accommodate both VR and AR. Thin-film HOEs offer promise, as well as dynamic liquid crystal HOEs. New coupler gratings, including polarization volume gratings, volume holographic gratings and surface relief gratings show great possibility in the field of waveguide architectures. Wu’s team provides in-depth descriptions of how these design principles would work using a k-diagram and associated challenges like diffraction artifacts.

Finally, Wu’s team addresses the promise of a Maxwellian-type system. Depending on the operation mode, this architecture can adopt computational holography, Maxwellian-view and multi-view to solve the vergeance-accommodation conflict (VAC) in AR. In the paper, Wu’s team suggests several methods for implementing pupil steering and pupil duplication using nascent HOE technologies.

Light engines in AR are often overlooked in review papers, but Wu’s team conducts a quantitative comparison of laser beam scanner, liquid-crystal-on-silicon and micro-LEDs. This will provide a valuable stepping stone for future development of light engines.

The authors on the paper are Jianghao Xiong; En-Lin Hsiang; Ziqian He; Tao Zhan; and Shin-Tson Wu.