A new flat lens has been created which has the possibility to replace lenses used in all different types of devices such as microscopes and cameras.
A new flat lens has been created which has the potential to replace lenses used in all types of devices such as microscopes and cameras.
The lens is constructed of paint whitener over a thin glass measuring only two millimetres across – finer than a human hair.
Professor Federico Capasso, senior author from Harvard University, said: “The quality of our images is actually better than with a state-of-the-art objective lens. I think it is no exaggeration to say that this is potentially revolutionary.”
The lens – a metamaterial as it has non-natural properties – is packed with millions of tiny pillars smaller than the wavelength of light made from titanium dioxide. These pillars allow the lens to have the focusing ability of conventional lenses as well as producing images 30% sharper when compared to high-end scientific microscopes. As it is inexpensive and can be made in the same way as semiconductors or electronic chips, it could be mass produced cheaply.
Capasso said: “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. 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.”
Professor Vladmir Shalaev, from Purdue University, who was not involved in the research said: “This new breakthrough solves one of the most basic and important challenges, making a visible-range metalense that satisfies the demands for high numerical aperture and high efficiency simultaneously, which is normally hard to achieve.”