‘Metalens’ breakthrough may revolutionize camera lenses as we know them

“Until recently, metalenses—flat ‘lenses’ that can focus light using nanopillars on their surface — were a cool-but-limited area of study when it came to photography,” DL Cade reports for Digital Photography Review. “Sure, these flat lenses are 100,000x thinner than glass, but they could only work with a limited range of colors, making it unlikely they’d appear in a cameras module any time soon.”

“That all changed this week, however, when a team at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) announced that they had succeeded in developing the first metalens that can focus the entire spectrum of visible light, including white light, onto a single point in high resolution,” Cade reports. “This is a huge breakthrough.”

“The details of how this is achieved can get a bit complicated—involving how they pair and space the ‘nanofins’ on the metalens itself — but the result is easy enough to understand,” Cade reports. “An achromatic flat lens that comes with three very big advantages over traditional glass lenses, as the paper’s lead author Federico Capasso explains: ‘Metalenses are thin, easy to fabricate and cost effective. This breakthrough extends those advantages across the whole visible range of light. This is the next big step.'”

Read more in the full article here.

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17 Comments

      1. Davgreg, What part of “easy to fabricate and cost effective” makes you think the iPhone XX wpuld be even more expensive? By the way, bitching about the notch has become trite. Everyone I know who has this phone (myself included) will tell you- its the best iPhone ever made and a pleasure to use.

  1. back before dslr cameras i could take pictures using ambient infra-red light and special film with my slr. can’t do that with my dslr now. also, circular polarizing filters, which are needed for the dslr cameras, don’t work as well as the polarizing filters that worked with film. progress apparently comes with some tradeoffs. what won’t we be able to do with this new lens technology?

      1. Leica, for those with more money than brains. They have good lenses that are stupidly overpriced, and camera bodies that are mediocre. This says a lot about you and your moronic comments.

    1. Modern DSLR sensors are in fact sensitive to IR, but most have a IR filter over the sensor. Some astrophotographers have it removed to capture the red Hydrogen-Alpha end of bright nebulae.

      As far as filters, we’ve just replaced glass production filters with digital post-production filters (Lightroom, Photoshop). And usually the results are better and you get far more control.

      1. I believe in Jesus. And I could also kick your ass in quantum physics. If you think that is a contradiction then maybe you are a bigot. Also arrogant.

        Jesus is about kindness. And emmayche explains to you – in a very kind way – that focusing white light is different than focusing one single wavelength at a time. Apparently it is you, rather than the author, who needs schooling. Please try kindness. It will help you a lot! And you are less likely to end up looking stupid!

        1. Is your given name “Jus’ Sayin'” or is that the handle you use in Mom’s Basement?
          You have no idea what my background is and you have not presented yours, so you make many assumptions.

          As to your personal faith, congratulations. I believe many things, but none is going to get me to heaven- a place not proven to exist outside the invisible product of Religious faith.

          “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Cor 4:18 NIV

          The statement being ridiculed is a flaw of logic- not Physics. White Light is the presence of all wavelengths of visible light – which are the components of that light. Take away any color and it is not white light.

          Therefore, if a lens transmits white light is transmits the components and the inverse.

          Made my living as a Photographer for many years and learned to color match by eyesight. To judge exposure by eyesight and knowledge of the film speed and latitude. Yes, that makes me a Dinosaur.

          1. Having worked in publishing, I have a guess on what happened. The author of the article probably said “all wavelengths if visible light.” Then the editor probably added the parenthetical: “including white light” and the author was probably not even notified.

            That’s how it usually goes.

    1. There have been flat lenses in the past which could focus several colors, but none until now have been able to focus white light since it, of course, consists of all colors.

      For those with any background at all in optics, this was a reassuring add to the article which meant that yes, they really WERE talking about the Holy Grail of flat lenses. (Note that the person to whom the quote is attributed is not a paid writer, but the lead author of the paper, who probably knows more about optics than all of us here put together.)

      1. well as a retired chief scientist with a pretty good theoretical and practical background in energy propagation, without knowing who wrote that quote i would have to say they don’t know much about what white light is. but on careful inspection i think we do know whose words those are.
        for anyone with any background in english prose if you read it over again it looks like it is a quote from dl cade from digital photography review, and not the lead author of the paper, who is probably cringing right now if he/she has read the original article. and even more so if that person read this piece on m.d.n. and your comment attributing the quote to the author.

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