Aussie scientists create world’s thinnest camera lens

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CANBERRA — Australian scientists have created the world’s thinnest camera lens, in a breakthrough set to result in mass advancements in medicine and nanotechnology.

Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra work at the lab of the institution's Research School of Engineering
Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra work at the lab of the institution’s Research School of Engineering

The lens, developed at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, is just 6.3 nanometers thick, eight times thinner than the previous record holder at 50 nanometers.

Dr. Larry Lu from the ANU’s Research School of Engineering said the technology could be used in mainstream industry through the development of flexible computer and television screens.

“This type of material is the perfect candidate for future flexible displays,” Lu said in a statement released on Friday, March 11.

“We will also be able to use arrays of micro lenses to mimic the compound eyes of insects.”

The revolution in miniature cameras are also tipped to have widespread effects in medicine, as the lens is one two-thousandth the thickness of a human hair.

Scientists created the lens from molybdenum disulphide, a flexible glass material with electronic characteristics.

“Molybdenum disulphide is an amazing crystal,” Lu said, “It survives at high temperatures, is a lubricant, a good semiconductor and can emit photons too.”

The team created their lens from crystals 6.3 nanometers — or 9 atomic layers — thick. As they peeled off each layer of molybdenum disulphide using, of all things, sticky tape, the team found that each individual layer of the glass material had “remarkable” optical properties, thanks to its high refractive index — something perfect for use in camera lenses.

Lu said the discovery would pave the way for further advancements in nanophotography and nanotechnology.

“The capability of manipulating the flow of light in atomic scale opens an exciting avenue towards unprecedented miniaturization of optical components and the integration of advanced optical functionalities,” he said. — PNA/Xinhua

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