WITS Structured Light Laboratory


We welcome new partners with an interest to collaborate, and we have opportunities for Master’s and Doctoral studies, as well as vacation work for good students.


The ability to tailor optical fields is an essential tool in a modern optics laboratory and has come of age with liquid crystal technology, allowing for the digital control of light.  By Structured Light we mean the creation of arbitrarily complex light patterns, e.g., accelerating light, non-diffracting light, vector light fields and light carrying optical vortices and orbital angular momentum.  We create these fields by a range of techniques, but primarily using digital holograms written to spatial light modulators.

We then apply such Structured Light in applications such as optical trapping and tweezing of single cells, increased optical bandwidth in free space and in fibre optical communication systems using spatial modes of light, and increased security in quantum links.   In many cases our detection schemes are also digital holograms – it is our aim to demonstrate the all-digital control of light.


Our Main Themes

Our main projects presently include:

  • classical entanglement with vector vortex beams;
  • quantum imaging;
  • secure quantum communication with high-dimensional entangled states;
  • propagation of spatial modes in free space and fibres for high bandwidth communication;
  • optical imaging and control of nanostructures;
  • novel lasers using both the dynamic and geometric phase of light.

The work is carried out at both the classical and quantum levels and includes topics that range from purely theoretical to purely experimental. Our research builds competency in mathematical algorithms applied in optics, both theoretically and computationally, non-linear optics, diffractive optical elements, micro optics, adaptive optics, refractive beam shapers, digital holograms, spatial light modulators and wavefront sensing. We have numerous national and international collaborators and several industry partners and welcome exchange programmes and collaborations with other groups. We have opportunities for students wishing to pursue a Masters and Doctoral degree with us, as well as for Post Doctoral Fellowships.