Adaptive optical beam steering and tuning system based on electrowetting driven fluidic rotor


Reconfigurable beam steering components are indispensable to support optical and photonic network systems operating with high adaptability and with various functions. Currently, almost all such components are made of solid parts whose structures are rigid, and hence their functions are difficult to be reconfigured. Also, optical concentration beam steering is still a very challenging problem compared to radio frequency/microwave steering. Here we show a watermill-like beam steering system that can adaptively guide concentrating optical beam to targeted receivers. The system comprises a liquid droplet actuation mechanism based on electrowetting-on-dielectric, a superlattice-structured rotation hub, and an enhanced optical reflecting membrane. The specular reflector can be adaptively tuned within the lateral orientation of 360 degrees, and the steering speed can reach similar to 353.5 degrees s(-1). This work demonstrates the feasibility of driving a macro-size solid structure with liquid microdroplets, opening a new avenue for developing reconfigurable components such as optical switches in next-generation sensor networks.