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Forward-looking Metalens

Inspired by the human eye, a team led by Clarke at the Harvard MRSEC has reported in Science Advances an adaptive metalens that is a flat, electronically-controlled artificial eye. This new lens which combines breakthroughs in artificial muscle and lens technologies simultaneously controls three of the major factors in a blurry picture: focus, astigmatism, and image shift. Because of the dynamic corrections the metalens functions in ways the human eye cannot. This demonstrates the feasibility of embedded optical zoom and autofocus for cell phone cameras, eyeglasses, and augmented reality devices. The work provides the possibility of unifying two industries: semiconductor manufacturing and lens-making whereby the same technology to make a computer chip will also be used to make metasurface-based optical components.