Study focuses on near-perfect lens

Nov. 17, 2005
A study by Dr. Tom Mackay of the University of Edinburgh and Professor Akhlesh Lakhtakia of Penn State may solve one of the great challenges in optics and electromagnetics.

Scientists have long sought to minimize lens distortion, but it's only within the last five years that production of a near-perfect lens has become a possibility.

There's progress with the recent creation of negatively-refracting materials that enable rays of light, passing from one material to another, to bend in the opposite direction of that described in conventional physics textbooks. However, these materials are difficult and costly to produce, as they involve complex assemblies of intricately shaped conducting components embossed on nonconducting platforms. The new study suggests that rather than creating complex and costly microelectronic devices, negatively refracting materials can be produced by simply blending two granular substances together. While neither substance can refract negatively by itself, mixed together they can, provided the relative properties and proportions are adhered to.

In technological fields such as telecommunications, microwave engineering, and optical engineering, negatively refracting materials are expected to have a revolutionary impact. The new method brings the ideal of a near-perfect lens closer to reality.

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