Lens technology has not advanced much in the past millennia, sticking very close to the original concept designed in the late 1200s. However, scientists are reporting that they have developed a revolutionary new lens that has the capacity to replace lenses in applications ranging from cell phones to cameras to fibre-optic communication networks.
The lens is flat, distortion-free, and so small that more than 1,500 would fit across the width of a human hair!
The research is detailed in the American Chemical Society’s journal Nano Letters, and suggests the possibility of smartphones in the future becoming as thin as credit cards.
Currently, lenses are not thin or flat enough to remove distortions such as spherical aberration, astigmatism and coma, which prevent the creation of a sharp image. Previously, any attempt to correct these distortions required complex solutions like multiple lenses, which increased the weight and took up extra space.
So the scientists decided to simply make a thinner lense.
And though the new lens is ultra-thin, it has the resolving power that actually approaches the theoretical limits set by the laws of optics.
The lens surface is patterned with tiny metallic stripes which bend light differently as one moves away from the center, causing the beam to sharply focus without distorting the images. The current version of the lens works at a specific design wavelength, but the scientists say it can be redesigned for use with broad-band light.
Source: American Chemical Society
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