An optical phased array formed of a large number of nanophotonic antenna elements can be used to project complex images into the far field. These nanophotonic phased arrays, including the nanophotonic antenna elements and waveguides, can be formed on a single chip of silicon using complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) processes. Directional couplers evanescently couple light from the waveguides to the nanophotonic antenna elements, which emit the light as beams with phases and amplitudes selected so that the emitted beams interfere in the far field to produce the desired pattern. In some cases, each antenna in the phased array may be optically coupled to a corresponding variable delay line, such as a thermo-optically tuned waveguide or a liquid-filled cell, which can be used to vary the phase of the antenna's output (and the resulting far-field interference pattern).
This invention was made with government support under Contract No. HR0011-12-2-0007 awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and under Grant No. DE-AC04-94AL85000 awarded by the Department of Energy. The government has certain rights in the invention.