Lenses Now You Know

University of Ottawa Researchers Aim to Revolutionize the Lens With “Spaceplate”

A plate that compresses space, hence the “spaceplate.” uOttawa researchers have experimentally demonstrated that a thin nanotechnology-based optical element can effectively compress the distance that light needs to travel, thus reducing the length of lens imaging systems.

Researchers at uOttawa (University of Ottawa in Canada) have proposed a novel concept that they have dubbed the spaceplate that has the potential to revolutionize how future lenses are designed.

The spaceplate is a nanotechnology-based optical element that manipulates light rays based not on its position, but on its angle. A beam incident on the spaceplate at a particular angle will emerge at that same angle but be transversely translated by a certain length. The result is that spaceplate acts to effectively compress the space required for the light to travel before it hits the image sensor, thus reducing the length of the lens barrel. In the illustration above, the space depicted in yellow has been compressed by the spaceplate, resulting in a much shorter lens.

Adding a spaceplate to an imaging system such as a standard camera with a fixed lens will shorten the camera thickness. Added to a lens, it will shorten the length of the lens barrel (and therefore its weight). An ultrathin monolithic imaging system can be formed by integrating a metalens and a spaceplate directly onto a sensor (thus removing any lens “bump”) on a cellphone.

This technology may mean that long and heavy telephoto lenses (such as those for full-frame mirrorless cameras) could be reduced in size and weight, perhaps negating the advantage of using smaller sensors (such as found in Micro Four Thirds mirrorless cameras).

via EurekAlert