The METAFAST project aims to develop a novel class of synthetic nonlinear optical materials, or metamaterials, as a disruptive platform enabling unprecedented ultrafast dynamical control over polarization and wavefront of light. In particular, we will develop ultracompact all-optical modulators capable of faster than ever structuring of the spin and orbital angular momentum (SOAM) of light beams. Such ultrafast optical modulation offers an exceptionally robust method for the encoding of digital information in free space optical links, being also resistant to eavesdropping thanks to topological protection. The state-of-the-art of SOAM modulation technology to date is largely based on liquid crystals or digital micromirrors, which suffer from intrinsic limits in terms of speed (of the order of thousands bit per second) and prevent real-world telecom applications (demanding billions bit per second data rate). Thanks to our novel approach to ultrafast light structuring via nonlinear optical metasurfaces we will tackle the formidable challenge of increasing by 6 orders of magnitude the speed of SOAM modulators. Such a result could provide the metropolitan optical network with the kind of speed, robustness and security requested to support the 5G radio technology, thus underpinning the forthcoming fourth industrial revolution with fast communications for the so-called internet of things.
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Funding SchemeRIA - Research and Innovation action