Accelerated Materials Design of Kirigami Optics Using Machine Learning

Project Abstract/Statement of Work:

Kirigami Nanocomposites and Their Relevance: This project will integrate Machine Learning (ML) and materials design of optical modulators inspired by the art of kirigami. Subwavelength-sized, three-dimensional (3D) kirigami nanocomposites (Fig. 1) add a literal new dimension to optical components needed for 3D cameras, acoustic, terahertz, radiofrequency, and laser radars (LIDARs). The nano-kirigami sheets make possible manipulation of the reflected and transmitted beams using periodic scattering patterns from the out-of-plane features defined by the periodic matrix of cuts. Such optical elements enable replacements of the heavy and costly optical components with patterned surfaces. Nano-kirigami composites can transform LIDARS and other remote sensors into flat, conformal, and modular units complying with functional, aerodynamic, and aesthetic constraints of autonomous cars and home robotics.

Problems To be Solved:

The difficulties with transition of LIDAR, and similar technologies from expensive high-end systems to human-oriented everyday parts of a vehicle or a home are related, in large part, to the weight and cost of basic optical components: lenses, mirrors, polarizers, prisms, etc for eye-safe infrared (IR) wavelengths. Replacement of these components with flat light-weight optical components based on newest advances in optics is possible. One of such technologies is nano-kirigami composite optics developed at the University of Michigan.1,2 It utilizes space charge effects and out-of-plane surfaces patterns of composites made from plasmonic nanoparticles or nanocarbons patterned following the traditions of kirigami artists using state-of-the-art lithography. Such patterns make possible light modulation over the distances shorter than the wavelength of incident photons. Simultaneously, high elasticity and durability of nanocomposites enable their rapid reconfigurability and scalability. We have recently demonstrated that nano-kirigami composites enabled unusually wide angle of beams steering module, the essential element of LIDAR and other remote sensors.

PI and Co-PI: