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September 21, 2012

New ultra thin lens to soon make mobile phones as slim as credit cards

Small lens could fit more than 1,500 elements with the thickness of a human hair

By CBR Staff Writer

Physicists at Harvard School of Engineering and Applications in the US have developed an ultrathin flat lens which could assist in manufacturing smartphones as slim as a credit card.

The new flat, distortion-free and small lens could fit more than 1,500 elements with the thickness of a human hair and is considered in the future of swapping lenses in purposes varying form cell phones to cameras to fibre-optic communication systems.

Harvard School of Engineering and Applications physicist and team leader Federico Capasso said imagine if we were to replace the lens in a mobile phone with a flat and ultrathin one, we could then squeeze our smartphone down to a thickness approaching that of a credit card.

"Most optical components found in devices today are quite bulky because the light-beam shaping is done by changing the optical path of incident light rays, which requires changes in lens thickness," Capasso said.

"In our lens, all the beam shaping is done on its flat surface, which is just 60 nm thick."

According to the physicist and his team, the lenses deployed for focussing light in eyeglasses, microscopes and other products implement similar basic technology established in the late 1200s.

The currently manufactured lenses are not thin or flat sufficient to eliminate alterations including spherical aberration, astigmatism and coma, which avert development of a sharp image.

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Modification of the obtained distortions would need complex solutions that include multiple lenses which will increase weight and occupy space.

Further the new superthin, flat lens was developed to trounce these challenges.

The scientists also claim that while the new lens is ultra-thin, it has a resolving power which will actually looms the theoretical limits established by the laws of optics.

The current lens variant will operate a precise design wavelength, while it can be modified for deployments with broad-band light, the scientists said.

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