Ultrathin, Compact Metalens Telescope Images Far-Away Objects

Astronomers are aware that a larger telescope has more potent imaging capabilities. The first ultrathin, compact metalens telescope capable of imaging distant objects, such as the moon, was developed by a research team to maintain the power while streamlining one of the bulkier components.

Traditional camera or telescope lenses are heavy and bulky because they have a curved surface with varying thickness, a bump in the center, and thinner edges. Metalenses can lie flat because they contour light using nano-structures on the lens rather than curvature.

The thickness of the lenses takes up space even though they appear flat because they are concealed behind a glass window, which is one of the reasons why contemporary cell phone camera lenses protrude from the body of the phone.

Typically, transparent substrates are used in electron beam lithography to produce antenna-like designs for metalens. However, the electron beam’s scanning procedure restricts the size of the lens that can be made because it takes a long time and needs a better throughput to scan each point.

To build a larger lens, the researchers modified deep ultraviolet (DUV) photolithography, a fabrication technique frequently used to make computer chips.

The researchers created a single-lens telescope using the new fabrication technique, which resulted in clear images of the lunar surface with much higher object resolution and imaging distance than earlier metalenses.

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