Diffraction Free, Self-Bending Airy Wave Generation

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Shows Airy beam generation through Fourier synthesis using phase masks or filters in the spatial domainAn example of a configuration for producing Airy pulses using a cubic spectral phase
Aristide Dogariu, Ph.D.
Demetrios Christodoulides, Ph.D.
Georgios Siviloglou
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Diffraction free, self-bending airy wave arrangement

US Patent 8,101,929 B1
Observation of Accelerating Airy Beams
Physical Review Letters, 2007
Optics: Against the Spread of the Light
Nature: International Weekly Journal of Science, Jan. 2008
Light Beam with a Curve
Focus: Physical review, Nov. 2007

Methods, apparatus and systems for generating self-bending diffraction free Airy wavepackets in both the special and temporal domain.

Any ordinary beam of light spreads as it travels, thanks to the wave effect known as diffraction. Even a laser pointer’s beam gets wider and dimmer on the way to a distant screen. But in 1987 a team introduced the Bessel beam, whose intensity remains constant as you move away from the source. In the absence of spreading or diffraction in light or matter, exciting applications become possible. Light modes such as Bessel beams can be used to exert forces on minuscule particles, such as biological cells in microfluidic environments, and to achieve targeted drug delivery into cells using ultrashort bursts of non-diffracting light, with no precise focusing required. However, diffraction-free waves such as the Bessel beams are only generated through conical superposition of plane waves and are thus cylindrically symmetric. As a result they can only propagate on straight lines. Also, such beams have their power distributed throughout their cross-section and hence only a small portion of power is conveyed in their main lobe. Moreover, Bessel beams can only exist in two-dimensions which in many occasions is a limitation.

Technical Details

To overcome such disadvantages and limitations, UCF scientists demonstrated for the first time a new family of non-diffracting waveforms that have another, even stranger property: they appear to curve. These Airy wavepackets are highly asymmetric, with one bright region at the center and a series of progressively dimmer patches on one side of the central spot. Rather than propagating in a straight line, the entire pattern of bright and dark patches curves toward one side. At the same time, the width and intensity of each patch remains essentially constant, even after an ordinary beam would have dropped to nearly half its original intensity and spread to several times its original width. As the wavepackets can exist in one, two, and three-dimensional waves, implementation possibilities are expanded. Moreover, Airy wavepackets can be used in several fields of interest, and due to their self-bending character they can also be utilized in military LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) for imaging purposes. In addition, given that Airy wavepackets are self-healing, these waves can be used in adverse environment such as those in the presence of atmospheric turbulence. With this remarkable invention, UCF scientists have proven the impossible, a nondiffraction light beam that is able to curve, a theorist’s dream with eminently practical consequences.


  • Able to generate non-diffracting wave forms that are able to bend or curve as it propagates, resulting in the remarkable ability to optically manipulate such beams
  • Highly asymmetric allowing the width and intensity of each patch to remain essentially constant no matter how long the beam travels
  • Able to self-heal in adverse environments
  • Can generate one, two, and three-dimensional waves


  • Optics
  • Acoustics
  • Microwaves
  • Near-field microscopy
  • Cell biology
  • Microfluid engineering
  • Cold atom optics
  • Material processing
  • Ablation of organic and inorganic materials
  • Micro/nano-particle manipulation and detection
  • Military LIDAR for imaging purposes