London: A team of engineers have developed a new device that can shape and steer beams of light at never before achieved speeds.
The new technology will ensure the production of better optical devices such as holographs that can move rapidly in real time.
The acousto-optic array consists of 64 tiny piezo-electric elements which act as high frequency loudspeakers.
The complex sound field generated deflects and sculpts any light passing through the new device.
As the sound field changes, so does the shape of the light beam.
The research led by Bruce Drinkwater, professor of ultrasonics at the University of Bristol in Britain and Mike MacDonald at the University of Dundee appeared in the journal Optics Express.
"This means that in the future laser beam-based devices will be able to be re-configured much faster than is currently possible. Previously, the fastest achieved is a few thousand refreshes per second," Drinkwater said.
The capabilities of laser beam shaping and steering are crucial for many optical applications, such as optical manipulation and aberration correction in microscopy.