on June 6th, 2016

Researchers at Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have announced a new lens that could see improvements to oversized lenses prevalent in cameras and telescopes. They call it an ultra-thin planar “metalens” that would revolutionize the world of optics in lenses. The lens would be able to utilize nanotechnology to enable a heightened access to the spectrum of light. Currently, we utilize round lenses that are exactly flat. 

“This technology is potentially revolutionary because it works in the visible spectrum, which means it has the capacity to replace lenses in all kinds of devices, from microscopes to camera, to displays and cell phones. In the near future, metalenses will be manufactured on a large scale at a small fraction of the cost of conventional lenses, using the foundries that mass produce microprocessors and memory chips,” said Federico Capasso, an electrical engineer and one of the authors of the paper that have been compiled about the lenses. 

The flat lens contains paint whitener on a sliver of glass. The flat camera lenses could be thinner than human hair. In the video the engineers have put together, they explain that tiny layers of titanium dioxide are arranged in a “specific pattern” that access the light spectrum in a different way than conventional lenses do. The researchers say the newly engineered lens will do everything a traditional lens does just without the amount of material needed to make the lens. 

“We wanted to design a single planar lens with a high numerical aperture, meaning it can focus light into a spot smaller than the wavelength. The more tightly you can focus light, the smaller your focal spot can be, which potentially enhances the resolution of the image,” said Mohammadreza Khorasaninejad, another one the report’s authors. 

Capasso thinks the technology could be a game-changer for the lens industry. He told the BBC: “The quality of our images is actually better than with a state-of-the-art objective lens. Our lenses, being planar can be fabricated in the same foundries that make computer chips.” The fact that they can be made in the same factory probably means lenses would be able to be manufactured at a much cheaper price than they currently are and more can be manufactured at once. 

Source: Science Daily 


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