High-resolution grayscale image hidden in a laser beam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Fuyong Yue
  • Chunmei Zhang
  • Xiao-Fei Zang
  • Dandan Wen
  • Brian D. Gerardot

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Heriot-Watt University


Images perceived by human eyes or recorded by cameras are usually optical patterns with spatially varying intensity or color profiles. In addition to the intensity and color, the information of an image can be encoded in a spatially varying distribution of phase or polarization state. Interestingly, such images might not be able to be directly viewed by human eyes or cameras because they may exhibit highly uniform intensity profiles. Here, we propose and experimentally demonstrate an approach to hide a high-resolution grayscale image in a square laser beam with a size of less than half a millimeter. An image with a pixel size of 300 × 300 nm is encoded into the spatially variant polarization states of the laser beam, which can be revealed after passing through a linear polarizer. This unique technology for hiding grayscale images and polarization manipulation provides new opportunities for various applications, including encryption, imaging, optical communications, quantum science and fundamental physics.


Original languageEnglish
Article number17129
JournalLight: Science & Applications
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2018


  • greyscale image , metasurface , polarization manipulation