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Researchers Develop New Nanomaterial to Make Thinner Glass Lenses -- Eyesight Revolutionized?

Feb 22, 2017 09:39 AM EST

For people with eyesight problems but choose not to wear contact lenses or undergo laser surgery, eyeglasses are an integral part of their everyday life. A new study, published in the journal Nano Letters, has discovered a new material that could revolutionize this accessory.

A team of researchers from Harvard has built an entirely new material that could replace the lenses on eyeglasses. This material, called "metalenses," has higher efficiency and can work on a broader spectrum of colors such as green and blue.

Made of nanomaterials, metalenses is a lightweight material that can serve as a potential replacement to current lenses that are available in the market. If used, the nanomaterial could result to thinner, less bulky glasses.

The nanomaterial is made of "nanopillars" composed of hair-sized titanium oxide. What makes this material unique is its ability to eliminate "chromatic aberration" or color fringing. Chromatic Aberration happens during a lens dispersion. It's an optical problem where the lens could not bring all the color waveleghts into the same focal plane, resulting in blurred images or prevalent color edges.

This results in a material that is both ultrathin and "perfect," at least in theory. Zhujun Shi, a co-author of the study, said their discovered material can be compatible in a multitude of applications.

For instance, because metalenses are more capable of getting better detail than regular lenses, it can be used in scientific applications such as replacing the lenses in microscopes and other lab instruments. 

"This technology is potentially revolutionary because it works in the visible spectrum, which means it has the capacity to replace lenses in all kinds of devices, from microscopes to cameras, to displays and cell phones," said Federico Capasso, senior author of the paper, in a press release.

Currently, the material can only work one color at a time, making people see in monochrome. More research is needed to fully utilize its potential, Engadget reports. The researchers said that the new study could pave the way in a new field of study in optics.

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