Researchers from the University of Ottawa have developed a concept that would reduce the size of lenses by a huge margin and effectively eliminate the size of modern optics if combined with a metalens. The team tackled not lens elements themselves, but instead the space between them.
The researchers explain that the last few centuries of optical work rely on perfecting and combining lenses to better control optical performance. Building on that, relatively new nanotechnology has allowed for the development of metalenses that have the capability to shrink down optics by a large degree.
But unaddressed in metalens development is the requirement for space between optical elements. No matter how small a lens can get, it still relies on space in order to produce images. That space will always be an obstacle for miniaturization unless it is addressed directly.
As described in the research paper’s abstract, the researchers pointedly address the issue of space by presenting the concept of and experimentally demonstrating an optical “spaceplate.”