In what could be perhaps the biggest breakthrough in lens technology in quite some time, researchers at Harvard have created the first ‘metalens’ that can focus the entire visible spectrum of light on a single point in a frame.
It can even focus white light and eventually mean we’ll be using lenses thinner than a human hair, researchers say.
Instead of bulky optics made of curved glass, ‘meta-material lenses’ like the one announced by Harvard are smaller and flatter and employ titanium dioxide nanofins that help focus light in the same way as traditional lenses.
According to Harvard SEAS, the new metalens will also completely eliminate chromatic aberrations in images. The publication adds:
Previous research demonstrated that different wavelengths of light could be focused but at different distances by optimizing the shape, width, distance, and height of the nanofins. In this latest design, the researchers created units of paired nanofins that control the speed of different wavelengths of light simultaneously. The paired nanofins control the refractive index on the metasurface and are tuned to result in different time delays for the light passing through different fins, ensuring that all wavelengths reach the focal spot at the same time.
There’s no word yet on when this technology will hit the mainstream, but with lenses thinner than glass and 1cm in diameter, they are sure to revolutionise and industry that has already been changing at rapid pace.