A new lens technology could replace heavy, bulky lenses in smartphones and telescopes.
Conventionel lenses are stacked in order to reduce distortions and resolve a clear image. This makes lenses very bulky and a challenge to integrate powerful optics into smartphones. A new lens technology developed at Harvard could change that.
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Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have demonstrated the first planar lens that works with high efficiency within the visible spectrum of light. The Metalens is covering the whole range of colors from red to blue. The lens can resolve nanoscale features separated by distances smaller than the wavelength of light. It uses an ultrathin array of tiny waveguides, known as a metasurface, which bends light as it passes through.
“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 cameras, to displays and cell phones,” said Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering and senior author of the paper. “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.”
The researches used titanium dioxide, a readily available material found in paint and even sunscreen, to create the nanoscale array of smooth and high-aspect ratio nanostructures that form the heart of the metalens.
The new lens research is described in the journal Science. To learn more about this exciting new lens technology that can finally make the iPhone's rear flush again, listen to the podcast below.