Metalens magnifies by fragmenting light
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'Metalens' magnifies by fragmenting light

A flat lens made of paint whitener on a sliver of glass could revolutionise optics, according to its US inventors.

Just 2mm across and finer than a human hair, the tiny device can magnify nanoscale objects and gives a sharper focus than top-end microscope lenses.

It is quite unlike the curved disks of glass familiar from cameras and binoculars. Instead, it is made of a thin layer of transparent quartz coated in millions of tiny pillars, each just tens of nanometres across and hundreds high.

Singly, each pillar interacts strongly with light. Their combined effect is to slice up a light beam and remould it as the rays pass through the array.

Video courtesy: Capasso Lab/Harvard