Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal

Thin flat metalenses focused with liquid crystals have been created by a group of researchers led by Case Western Reserve University physics professor Giuseppe Strangi.


(Metalens with liquid crystal à la Dune)

a group led by scientist Federico Capasso at Harvard University has begun to transform the field of optics by engineering flat optics metasurfaces, employing an array of millions of tiny microscopically thin and transparent quartz pillars to diffract and mold the flow of light in much the same way as a glass lens, but without the aberrations that naturally limit the glass...

Case Western Reserve University physics professor Giuseppe Strangi and collaborators at Harvard have taken a step toward making these "metalenses" even more useful—by making them reconfigurable...

They did this by harnessing nanoscale forces to infiltrate liquid crystals between those microscopic pillars, allowing them to shape and diffract the light in completely new ways—"tuning" the focusing power, Strangi said.

Liquid crystals are especially useful because can be manipulated thermally, electrically, magnetically or optically, which creates the potential for the flexible or reconfigurable lenses.

"We believe that this holds the promise to revolutionize optics as we know it since the 16th century," said Strangi.

Fans of Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune will recall the field glasses with oil lenses:

Oil lens: hufhuf oil held in static tension by an enclosing force field within a viewing tube as part of a magnifying or other light-manipulation system.
(Read more about Herbert's oil lens)

If the Kwisatz Haderach uses them, they've got to be good.

For preceding efforts in this area, focus on these links:

 - Philips FluidFocus: Variable Focus Fluid Lens
  - Varioptic Liquid Lens For Phone Cameras
  - Liquid Camera Lens Controlled By Sound
  - Tunable Liquid Lens Glasses For The Masses
Via PhysOrg; h/t to @nyrath for the tip.

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