Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Next-generation lens promises wider view, greater detail

Date:
December 22, 2009
Source:
Duke University
Summary:
Engineers have created a new generation of lens that could greatly improve the capabilities of telecommunications or radar systems to provide a wide field of view and greater detail.

A close-up view of the new lens.
Credit: Duke University Photography

Duke University engineers have created a new generation of lens that could greatly improve the capabilities of telecommunications or radar systems to provide a wide field of view and greater detail.

Related Articles


But the lens they fashioned doesn't look anything like a lens. While traditional lenses are made of clear substances -- like glass or plastic -- with highly polished surfaces, the new lens looks more like a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds. Yet its ability to focus the direction of electromagnetic rays passing through it dramatically surpasses that of a conventional lens, the engineers say.

The latest advance was made possible by the ability to fabricate exotic composite materials known as metamaterials. The metamaterial in these experiments is not so much a single substance, but the entire man-made structure which can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature.

The prototype lens, which measures four inches by five inches and less than an inch high, is made up of more than 1,000 individual pieces of the same fiberglass material used in circuit boards and is etched with copper. It is the precise arrangement of these pieces in parallel rows, that directs the rays as they pass through.

"For hundreds of years, lens makers have ground the surfaces of a uniform material in such a way as to sculpt the rays as they pass through the surfaces," said Nathan Kundtz, post-doctoral associate in electrical and computer engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "While these lenses can focus rays extremely efficiently, they have limitations based on what happens to the rays as they pass through the volume of the lens.

"Instead of using the surfaces of the lens to control rays, we studied altering the material between the surfaces," Kundtz said. "If you can control the volume, or bulk, of the lens, you gain much more freedom and control to design a lens to meet specific needs."

The results of his experiments, which were conducted in the laboratory of senior researcher David R. Smith, the William Bevan Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, appeared as an advanced online publication of the journal Nature Materials. This is the first demonstration of what was thought to be theoretically possible.

Recognizing the limitations of traditional lenses, scientists have long been investigating other options, including those known as gradient index (GRIN) lenses. These are typically clear spheres, and while they have advantages over traditional lenses, they are difficult to fabricate and the focus point is spherical. Additionally, because most sensing systems are oriented in two dimensions, the spherical image doesn't always translate clearly on a flat surface.

The new lens, however, has a wide angle of view, almost 180 degrees, and because its focal point is flat, it can be used with standard imaging technologies. The latest experiments were conducted with microwaves, and the researchers say it is theoretically possible to design lenses for wider frequencies.

"We've come up with what is in essence GRIN on steroids," said Smith, whose team used similar metamaterials to create one of the first "cloaking" devices in 2006. "This first in a new class of lenses offers tantalizing possibilities and opens a whole new application for metamaterials.

"While these experiments were conducted in two dimensions, the design should provide a good initial step in developing a three-dimensional lens," Smith said. "The properties of the metamaterials we used should also make it possible to use infrared and optical frequencies."

The researchers say a single metamaterial lens could replace traditional optical systems requiring vast arrays of lenses and provide clearer images. They could also be used in large-scale systems such as radar arrays to better direct beams, a task not possible for traditional lenses, which would need to be too large to be practical.

The research was supported by the Army Research Office's Multiple University Research Initiative (MURI).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Duke University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Duke University. "Next-generation lens promises wider view, greater detail." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143915.htm>.
Duke University. (2009, December 22). Next-generation lens promises wider view, greater detail. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143915.htm
Duke University. "Next-generation lens promises wider view, greater detail." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091220143915.htm (accessed October 24, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Friday, October 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

3D Printed Instruments Make Sweet Music in Sweden

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 23, 2014) Students from Lund University's Malmo Academy of Music are believed to be the world's first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins