Polished and curved lenses have been the basis of many discoveries in our world for centuries. Be it the eyeglasses, the telescope or even the microscope. They have enabled us to create entirely new Polished lenses have been at the heart of imaging systems for centuries. Their precise curvature allows us to discover new worlds and explore different paths.

To change focus or adjust light bending, the lens usually has to be physically moved, tilted or shifted to cause a change. But MIT has now discovered a new way to get around that extra step – they’ve made a “metal lens” that can focus objects at different depths without changing their physical position.

“Our result shows that our ultrathin tunable lens, without moving parts, can achieve aberration-free imaging of overlapping objects positioned at different depths, rivaling traditional, bulky optical systems,” – Tian Gu, MIT’s Materials Research Laboratory

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The transparent phase-change material changes its atomic structure after heating and rearranges it. In this way, it changes the way the lens interacts with light. The novel and glassless design of the metal lens may enable more nimble optical devices in the future, such as miniature thermal imagers for drones, ultra-compact thermal cameras for cell phones and low-profile night vision goggles.

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