Ultrathin Nonlinear Metasurface for Optical Image Encoding

Security of optical information is of great importance in modern society. Many cryptography techniques based on classical and quantum optics have been widely explored in the linear optical regime. Nonlinear optical encryption in which encoding and decoding involve nonlinear frequency conversions represents a new strategy for securing optical information. Here, we demonstrate that an ultrathin nonlinear photonic metasurface, consisting of meta-atoms with 3-fold rotational symmetry, can be used to hide optical images under illumination with a fundamental wave. However, the hidden image can be read out from second harmonic generation (SHG) waves. This is achieved by controlling the destructive and constructive interferences of SHG waves from two neighboring meta-atoms. In addition, we apply this concept to obtain gray scale SHG imaging. Nonlinear metasurfaces based on space variant optical interference open new avenues for multilevel image encryption, anticounterfeiting, and background free image reconstruction.