For years researchers and scientists have been trying to replicate the focusing speed and ability of the human eye. All efforts were in vain until a team of researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) made a breakthrough that could revolutionize the way optical instruments could work in the future.
This new type of lens combines flat lens technology previously created by the same researchers, and the development of artificial muscles. This allows it to focus in real-time and is not bulky like the typical lenses used in today’s instruments. It’s not able to adjust for astigmatism and image shift, but it’s a step in the right direction.
The flat lens component used in the above-mentioned electronic lens is called the metalens. The scientists were only able to manufacture these lenses at the size of a piece of glitter. In comparison, the latest breakthrough consists of a 1-centimeter wide flat lens, which is a breakthrough on its own.
The metalens is constructed using hundreds of nanostructures that focus the entire spectrum of light on one point. To get the same results, the traditional lens is made of a number of components making it bulkier and larger. Hence the 1 cm metalens will truly revolutionize VR/AR and optical cameras.
The tech is still in the early stages of development and it will take a while until we see these lenses make it to mainstream devices.