Connecting Virtual to Reality: Joining VR with Complex Opti-Robotics

Project number: 
Airy Optics
Academic year: 
This project presents a proof-of-concept demonstration of geometric phase in an optical system, using out-of-plane mirror systems. The team built the physical mirror system with actual hardware, while they “built” the identical virtual mirror system inside of the Airy Optics VR Lab environment. The two mirror systems are linked through software so users can interact with either system to alter one or both mirror sets. The two systems can operate independently or in sync.

In the physical space, the team designed a frame that uses motors and motor drivers to enable precise rotational and linear movement of the mirrors. A custom Mathematica algorithm precisely aligns them using a generated list of 800 possible configurations. A laser with a customizable initial geometric phase propagates through the mirrors, and a polarimeter measures the polarization change. The physical system is controlled by a standalone Java application, which can communicate with the virtual system.

In the VR space, a corresponding set of mirrors displays real-time ray tracing using Polaris-M. The virtual subsystem consists of the virtual mirror setup and a graphical user interface to control each mirror position, both of which run with the Unity engine. A user can specify the polarization angle change in the optical subsystem, which alters the mirror positioning in both systems.

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