If you have a smartphone or a camera with you, take a look at its lenses right now. The next time you buy a phone, these bulky lenses may no longer be there. A team of scientists at Harvard University has developed a single, flat lens with the potential to do all the job needed for getting a great image.

This type of flat lens – known as metalens – is an optical device where nanostructures are patterned on a flat surface. The tailored design of the nanoscale pattern modifies its refractive properties and controls the way light travels. Led by Professor Federico Capasso’s group at Harvard, metalens has been a young and active research area. Until now, the major challenge has been to focus lights of different wavelengths, which travel at different speeds. Great cameras and displays require multiple lenses to correct for such chromatic effects, giving them the bulky look familiar to us. The key innovation leading to this recent breakthrough was to shape the light according to its wavelength. In this way, the entire visible spectrum of light can be focused in a synchronized way with a single metalens.

The next step is to scale up metalens size to the centimeter scale. Companies in the optical industry already have their eyes on this cutting-edge and cost-efficient technology. Considering its versatile function and simple manufacture, this product could be the ‘next big thing’ in cameras, lighting, displays and wearable optics.

Managing Correspondent:

Hechen Ren

Original Research Article:

A broadband achromatic metalens for focusing and imaging in the visible  – Nature Nanotechnology

Media Coverage:

New Lens Tech Can Shrink Cameras, VR and AR Gear  – Technewsworld

Single metalens focuses all colors of the rainbow in one point  – Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

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