It's a huge discovery that scientists are calling revolutionary and game-changing in the world of optics.
A flat lens that is made of paint whitener could totally change the future of optics.
Researchers have come up with a lens that is just 2 mm across and finer than a human hair that would be able to magnify nanoscale objects, and could lead to huge advancements in technology used in everything from cell phone cameras to microscopes, according to a Harvard University statement.
The senior author of the study called it “game-changing.” The lens is unlike typical curved disks of glass used in cameras and binoculars, instead using a thin layer of transparent quartz coated on tiny pillars just tens of nanometers across.
The pillars interact with light and create a combined effect to slice up light as it passes through the array.
These so-called “metalenses” won’t have the aberrations that typical glass optics have. It will improve the quality of images, and could possibly revolutionize the industry. In addition, these lenses could also be used at the same factories that make computer chips, which would allow for mass production that would keep costs low.
The lenses could be used in mass-roduced cameras, as well as light-weight optics for virtual reality headsets. They could even have applications in contact lenses.
“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,” 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.”
“Correcting for chromatic spread over the visible spectrum in an efficient way, with a single flat optical element, was until now out of reach,” said Bernard Kress, Partner Optical Architect at Microsoft, who was not part of the research. “The Capasso group’s metalens developments enable the integration of broadband imaging systems in a very compact form, allowing for next generations of optical sub-systems addressing effectively stringent weight, size, power and cost issues, such as the ones required for high performance AR/VR wearable displays.”