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Scientists create paper-thin "artificial eye"

A metalens incorporating artificial muscle technology could make the images produced by cameras, microscopes and telescopes clearer

Metalens

Harvard researchers are looking to commercialise technology that could alter the way cameras, microscopes and telescopes are produced.

Scientists at the Harvard John A Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences have created a flat, electronically controlled artificial eye.

The metalens uses artificial muscle technology to control three factors that contribute to blurry images: focus, astigmatism and image shift.

Study author, Alan She, explained that the metalens can change focus in real time, like a human eye.

"We go one step further to build the capability of dynamically correcting for abberations such as astigmatism and image shift, which the human eye cannot naturally do," he added.

The scientists' research is published in Science Advances.

Together, the lens and artificial muscle are only 30 microns thick. The muscles are controlled electronically by applying voltage.

"Our results demonstrate the possibility of future optical microscopes that fully operate electronically, as well as compact optical systems that use the principles of adaptive optics to correct many orders of aberrations simultaneously," the authors conclude.