An optical illusion, such as “Rubin’s vase”, is caused by the information gathered by the eye, which is processed in the brain to give a perception that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. Metasurfaces are metamaterials of reduced dimensionality which have opened up new avenues for flat optics. The recent advancement in spin-controlled metasurface holograms has attracted considerate attention, providing a new method to realize optical illusions. We propose and experimentally demonstrate a metasurface device to generate an optical illusion. The metasurface device is designed to display two asymmetrically distributed off-axis images of “Rubin faces” with high fidelity, high efficiency and broadband operation that are interchangeable by controlling the helicity of the incident light. Upon the illumination of a linearly polarized light beam, the optical illusion of a ‘vase’ is perceived. Our result provides an intuitive demonstration of the figure-ground distinction that our brains make during the visual perception. The alliance between geometric metasurface and the optical illusion opens a pathway for new applications related to encryption, optical patterning, and information processing.
- Optical illusion