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Lenses Could Shrink In Size Thanks To Harvard

Harvard researchers have created ultra-thin, completely flat optics which could improve and shrink lenses used by photographers.

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The Harvard School for Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) has recently made a 'major leap forward' in creating an ultra-thin, completely flat optical component by adding tiny silicon antennas to their design, which means the lens can now successfully bend light. By adding this light-concentrating technology, the research team has created a very thin and completely flat glass lens that has the same light bending capabilities of the much bulkier lens designs currently on the market.

On the Harvard website, principal investigator Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Harvard SEAS says: "What this now means is that complicated effects like colour correction, which in a conventional optical system would require light to pass through several thick lenses in sequence, can be achieved in one extremely thin, miniaturised device." 

The new lens is an improved version of a prototype first created in 2012 which could only focus light of a single wavelength. The new version enables operation over a much broader range of wavelengths, for example: three wavelengths - such as red, green, and blue - the primary colours used in most digital displays, can now all be focused at the same point resulting in a flat lens creating a coloured image. This process is also done instantaneously rather than gradually, like in current lenses.

Harvard's Office of Technology Development has filed for a provisional patent on the new optical technology, known as "achromatic metasurface" and they are also looking in to various commercial opportunities.

You can learn more about the projects and the research team's work on the Harvard website. 

(via Digital Trends


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