Long before civilizations developed, humanity has been fascinated by the stars, and the technological advancements developed over time have given us tools to learn more about the universe beyond our atmosphere. Arguably the most recognizable piece of equipment humans created is the telescope, but as we continue to evolve in our search for knowledge so must the tools we use. Recent advancements have prompted researchers in Taiwan to develop lightweight, flexible lenses that would allow telescopes to view distant exoplanets that orbit outside of our solar system. These new lenses aim to enhance the clarity of captured images by utilizing holographic film, allowing for fine control of the lens focus. The film combined with a flexible body would also allow scientists to convert the captured light into a spectrum for wavelength analysis.
These “holographic optical elements” as they are being called researchers, are not an entirely new concept and instead build on the design of Fresnel lenses, optical components with a series of flat lenses that mimic the focus of curved lenses. By utilizing a flexible material, these new elements further exaggerate the wavelength separation properties their rigid predecessors exhibited, while also allowing for precision control of focus and clarity. With any luck these new optics will provide astronomers a clearer view of the cosmos and allow us to learn more about the universe beyond our doorstep.
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