What is meta-optics? The term comes from the Greek word μετά, meaning ‘beyond’, which is to take optics beyond its established principles and technologies. Many of the principles of optics – particularly the role of the lens – have remained unchanged since the time of the Ancient Greeks and Chinese.

Although those principles underpinned advances such as telescopes and cameras, they cannot keep up with ever-shrinking devices and the vision capabilities needed in machine-to-machine and human-to-machine communication in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0.)

The challenge now is how to generate, manipulate (distribute) and detect light in optical devices that are extraordinarily compact, lightweight and intelligent. Meta-optics will achieve this ultimate miniaturisation and functionalities with the use of nanotechnology to mould the materials at the nanoscale and achieve properties beyond what is possible today.

2D material device by Prof Ken Crozier, University of Melbourne.

Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Transformative Meta-Optical Systems (TMOS) will develop the next generation of miniaturised optical systems with new functionalities.

By harnessing the disruptive concept of meta-optics, TMOS will overcome complex challenges in light generation, manipulation and detection at the nanoscale. The Centre brings together a trans-disciplinary team of world-leaders in science, technology and engineering to deliver scientific innovations in optical systems for Industry 4.0.

The research outcomes will underpin future technologies, including real-time holographic displays, artificial vision for autonomous systems to see the invisible and ultra-fast light-based WiFi.

TMOS has three Research Themes – Generate, Manipulate and Detect.