This is something I’m going to have to watch a couple of times before I really get it.
Of course it’s going to take some time before camera lenses, made of these nanofins, are available for us consumers. And they’re probably going to cost quite a bit, too, at first. But the possibilities are endless and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!
A team at Harvard University has designed a ‘metalens’, around 100,000 times thinner than an equivalent glass lens. Constructed from titanium dioxide ‘nanofins’, the lens is a mere 600 nanometers thick, and can focus features smaller than the wavelength of the light it is imaging, thanks to its very high numerical aperture that allows it to focus light into a spot smaller than the wavelength of light being imaged. Senior author Federico Capasso and his fellow researchers successfully imaged structures 400nm in size, which is on the order of the bluest light in the visible spectrum. That suggests the tech is essentially diffraction-limited: resolving small structures as well as one ever theoretically could using visible light.
The practical potential of lenses made from these so-called ‘metamaterials’ are almost infinite, considering the drastic reductions in size and weight that the technology makes possible. A planar surface saves considerable space and volume compared to the typical curved surfaces traditional lenses necessitate. Furthermore, the non-reliance on a perfectly curved spherical or aspherical surface means images can be relatively aberration-free. And the nanostructures themselves can be manufactured with incredible precision, and in a cost-effective way as well, due to the compatibility with traditional microprocessor chip foundries.
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Source: Digital Photography Review