This glass is 1,000 times thinner than a strand of hair - study

Flat lenses offer clear advantages over conventional lenses, as they are much smaller, easier to manufacture and more visually appealing.

 Prof. Uriel Levy. (photo credit: YORAM ASCHHEIM/THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM)
Prof. Uriel Levy.
(photo credit: YORAM ASCHHEIM/THE HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM)

Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem developed a new method to evaluate novel “flat lenses” — glass lenses that are a mere 0.001% as thick as a light strand of human hair — the university announced on Monday.

Professor Uriel Levy, Director of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (HU)'s Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and postdoc student Dr. Jacob Engelberg led the research, which was published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Nature Photonics in late February.

Flat lenses offer clear advantages over conventional lenses.  With conventional lenses, the “stronger” the lens (the higher the prescription), the greater the curvature.  

Furthermore, the larger the lens diameter, the thicker the lens. This can affect the size and manufacturing cost of consumer electronics, cellphones, VR headsets, and drones – thus, engineers worldwide are pushing to make lenses as light as possible.

Flat lenses are aptly named — they are specifically designed to be incredibly thin and flat, rather than curved. However, while the development and manufacturing of flat lenses have become inexpensive, there remains very little expertise as to which lenses to use for specific products, as there is no universal method to evaluate flat lenses.

Students at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem earlier this year. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Students at the Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem earlier this year. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Engelberg and Levy stepped in to create a proper method of comparison, finding that sometimes, time-tested methods are the best way to evaluate new technologies. The researchers decided to test methods already in existence to evaluate conventional lenses, which can be used to determine if ultra-thin glass is suitable for certain applications.

“Adopting the standardized characterization methods that we’ve proposed will help this field progress," they said.