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Published September 2022 | Published
Journal Article Open

Wavefront shaping: A versatile tool to conquer multiple scattering in multidisciplinary fields


Optical techniques offer a wide variety of applications as light-matter interactions provide extremely sensitive mechanisms to probe or treat target media. Most of these implementations rely on the usage of ballistic or quasi-ballistic photons to achieve high spatial resolution. However, the inherent scattering nature of light in biological tissues or tissue-like scattering media constitutes a critical obstacle that has restricted the penetration depth of non-scattered photons and hence limited the implementation of most optical techniques for wider applications. In addition, the components of an optical system are usually designed and manufactured for a fixed function or performance. Recent advances in wavefront shaping have demonstrated that scattering- or component-induced phase distortions can be compensated by optimizing the wavefront of the input light pattern through iteration or by conjugating the transmission matrix of the scattering medium. This offers unprecedented opportunities in many applications to achieve controllable optical delivery or detection at depths, or dynamically configurable functionalities by using scattering media to substitute conventional optical components. In this article, the recent progress of wavefront shaping in multidisciplinary fields is reviewed, from optical focusing and imaging with scattering media, functionalized devices, modulation of mode coupling and nonlinearity in multimode fiber, and to multimode fiber-based applications. Apart from insights into the underlying principles and recent advances in wavefront shaping implementations, practical limitations and roadmap for future development are discussed in depth. Looking back and looking forward, it is believed that wavefront shaping holds a bright future that will open new avenues for noninvasive or minimally invasive optical interactions and arbitrary control inside deep tissues. The high degree of freedom with multiple scattering will also provide unprecedented opportunities to develop novel optical devices based on a single scattering medium (generic or customized) that can outperform traditional optical components.

Additional Information

© 2022 The Author(s). Under a Creative Commons license. Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0). Available online 2 August 2022. The work was supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) (81930048, 81627805), Hong Kong Research Grant Council (15217721, R5029-19, C7074-21GF), Hong Kong Innovation and Technology Commission (GHP/043/19SZ, GHP/044/19GD), Guangdong Science and Technology Commission (2019A1515011374, 2019BT02X105), National Research Foundation of Korea (2015R1A3A2066550, 2021R1A2C3012903), and Institute of Information & communications Technology Planning & Evaluation (IITP; 2021-0-00745) grant funded by the Korea government (MSIT). AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS. Y.P., L.W. and P.L. conceived and coordinated the mauscript. Z.Y., H.L., T.Z., J.P., S.C., C.W., Q.Z. and P.L. wrote the manuscript. Z.Y., H.L. and T.Z. prepared the figures. All authors were involved in the proofreading of the manuscript. The authors declare no competing interests.

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August 22, 2023
October 24, 2023