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Wafer-Thin “Metalens” Could Revolutionize Imaging
By Ian Bongso-Seldrup, January 5, 2018 @ 04:30 AM (EST)
Source: Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

It sounds like science fiction, but breakthrough research by a team from Harvard University’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences may soon make it possible for wafer-thin “metalenses” to supplant your bulky, weighty glass lenses. The work, which the team reported in the journal Nature Nanotechnology on New Year’s Day, follows on from an announcement by the same researchers in February last year that their metalens was able to focus all the colors from blue to green. The new metalens can now focus nearly the entire spectrum of visible light.

While a traditional lens uses multiple glass elements of different thicknesses to focus the entire spectrum of visible light, the Harvard team’s metalens does it using “nanofins”—tiny nano-structures typically made of titanium dioxide. Alexander Zhu, co-author of the study, says: “Using our achromatic lens, we are able to perform high quality, white light imaging. This brings us one step closer to the goal of incorporating them into common optical devices such as cameras.”

There are a few hurdles to overcome before you’ll say goodbye to your beloved 16–35mm, however. First, the metalens doesn’t quite cover the full spectrum of wavelengths: There are a few nanometers at either end—deep violet and deep red—which don’t get focused. Second, the sharpness of the metalens is some way behind that of traditional glass lenses. Still, the tech has already been licensed to a startup for commercial development, so the era of flat, ultra-lightweight camera lenses may be coming sooner than you think.

Read more here.



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