We’ve all seen metalenses, the little black dots you see on the ends of optical microscopes. These black dots are called refraction effects and when they cause the light to bend slightly, we see beautiful images. Scientists have developed metalenses for uses in high-tech microscopes to help scientists study incredibly small objects in the realm of the fauna and flora around them. They are also used in astronomy for research and observation purposes, such as mapping of the planets and stars.
Metalenses come in a variety of different forms to suit different needs. Traditional lenses made from glass are called metamaterials, which are used in astronomy and scientific microscopes. However, they are difficult to make and usually require extremely high temperatures during fabrication. This makes them impractical for everyday use unless you have a super-hot laser machine at your disposal. Modern metalenses come in a variety of different designs, which allows for flexibility and low fabrication costs.
Popular types of metalenses
- One of the most popular types of metalenses is flat lens technology. Flat lens technology uses flat mirrors with focused light underneath them which enables the light to focus directly on the optical components. Because flat lens meta surfaces can be printed on a standard computer printer, they are widely available and easily mass-produced.
- This flat lens Meta surface is made by laying down the metalenses on a large flat plate and then layering the substrate over a laser beam or other focused source of light. It may sound complicated, but this technique is often used in high-end optical microscopes.
One advantage is that metalenses can be made to any specific curvature, thus perfectly matching the curved focus of the original optical component. The downside is that they can also be made with any focus variation desired, creating an irregular surface that could distort images slightly.
Optical Meta surface manufacturing processes using metalenses are generally more expensive than mass production metals due to the additional steps necessary in the creation of each individual Meta surface. However, the overall production cost is highly competitive with most polymer-based optics. The bulk manufacturing process results in a very high return on investment (ROI), especially when compared to other manufacturing techniques such as fine-tuning or surface adjustment. Another advantage to bulk metasurface production is that it can create as many as thousands of identical devices at a time.
There are many benefits to using metamaterials in electronics, optics, medical applications, aerospace applications and others. However, one of the most exciting areas of growth currently seen in the field is in the field of optoelectronics where metamaterials are enabling lenses to perform at higher optical efficiency and reduced distortion. Because these metamaterials can be made into thin layers, the development of metalenses could enable engineers to use less surface area to coat lenses, thus increasing optical quality.