Researchers Combine Metalens With an Artificial Muscle

Artificial eye automatically stretches to simultaneously focus and correct astigmatism and image shift. (source: Harvard.edu)

Photo of the metalens (made of silicon) mounted on a transparent, stretchy polymer film, without any electrodes. The colorful iridescence is produced by the large number of nanostructures within the metalens. (source: Harvard.edu)

August 13, 2018 | Source: Harvard Paulson School, seas.harvard.edu, 23 February 2018, Leah Burrows

Artificial eye automatically stretches to simultaneously focus and correct astigmatism and image shift.


Inspired by the human eye, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed an adaptive metalens, that is essentially a flat, electronically controlled artificial eye. The adaptive metalens simultaneously controls for three of the major contributors to blurry images: focus, astigmatism, and image shift.

“This research combines breakthroughs in artificial muscle technology with metalens technology to create a tunable metalens that can change its focus in real time, just like the human eye,” said Alan She, a graduate student at SEAS and first author of the paper.

“We go one step further to build the capability of dynamically correcting for aberrations such as astigmatism and image shift, which the human eye cannot naturally do.”

“This demonstrates the feasibility of embedded optical zoom and autofocus for a wide range of applications including cell phone cameras, eyeglasses and virtual and augmented reality hardware,” said Federico Capasso, Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at SEAS and senior author of the paper. “It also shows the possibility of future optical microscopes, which operate fully electronically and can correct many aberrations simultaneously.”