Better Optics

Spring 2023

Bella Hunt working in the lab.
Bella Hunt

Bella Hunt’s graduate research into chalcogenides, a class of materials used for memory storage, has gotten a big boost, thanks to a $100,000 award from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.

Hunt is a fifth-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Her project amorphizes, or crystallizes, chalcogenides to create meta-optics: a new kind of lens technology with sensing and imaging capability. She is working to create an amorphous optic that can then crystallize different areas, changing the meta-optic’s functionality. The project has various potential applications, including use in space to change the focal length of a lens using a laser, thereby lessening the need for multiple lenses to view points at different distances.

“Think like CDs. You laser write CDs by amorphizing or crystallizing that material. We are using that same method to create a meta-optic. This is done by selectively transitioning regions either to an amorphous state or to a crystalline state by tuning different parameters, such as which regions are crystallized,” says Hunt, who works part-time at APL.