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Graphene Optical Lens a Billionth of a Meter Thick Breaks the Diffraction Limit ( 127

Zothecula writes: With the development of photonic chips and nano-optics, the old ground glass lenses can't keep up in the race toward miniaturization. In the search for a suitable replacement, a team from the Swinburne University of Technology has developed a graphene microlens one billionth of a meter thick that can take sharper images of objects the size of a single bacterium and opens the door to improved mobile phones, nanosatellites, and computers.
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Graphene Optical Lens a Billionth of a Meter Thick Breaks the Diffraction Limit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:04AM (#51414005)
    they better get some superglue and put it back together before someone finds out.
  • Graphene (Score:5, Funny)

    by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:09AM (#51414039) Journal
    FTA: "Once the technology is mature, the team sees it as having applications beyond microscopy, such as in lighter, thinner mobile phones with thermal imaging capabilities, smaller endoscopes for surgery, as a replacement for conventional lenses in nanosatellites to save a couple of hundred grams..."

    This material seems to be the latest addition to Randall Munroe's long list of engineering problems that can be waved away by tacking on the prefix "nano-."

  • by justcauseisjustthat ( 1150803 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:10AM (#51414053)
    This would be huge for camera pills and colonoscopy cameras, imagine swallowing 3-6 camera pills (no bigger that a standard capsule pill) of these and they stream back a continue set of pictures as they travel from the mouth until they pass through the butt. This would be the shit!!!
  • SI units (Score:5, Informative)

    by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:16AM (#51414111)

    One billionth of a meter = 1 nanometer = 0.000001mm

    • I prefer to use centimeters. Can you please convert this for me?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        0.00001 cm

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Mrs. once went to the emergency room for a cut and was attended by two physician's assistants:

        Assistant #1: "I need the length of the wound in millimeters."
        Assistant #2: "But this ruler is marked in centimeters!"

        Yep. I'm a 'murican.

    • by Rob Bos ( 3399 )

      Because apparently timothy thinks we're too stupid to understand 'nanometre'? ugh

    • Ikr? Why not just say nanometer? Everybody knows what that means.

    • One billionth of a meter = 1 nanometer = 0.000001mm

      I thought a nanometer was one US quadrillionth of a megameter.

    • yeah, but how many Library of Congress shelves is this? I don't think I can process this metric fad.
  • Science!!

    I don't have anything else to say on the topic, it's just nice to hear about awsome stuff like this on a Monday morning. Sure, it isn't a flying car, but I'll settle for smaller colonoscopy cameras (as justcauseisjustthat points out above) just fine.

    • Yes, yay, science ... but after many many years of "this will revolutionize the world in 5 years", many of us are just sort of numb to it.

      Because it never actually seems to happen. So getting all excited about it now seems premature.

      • Re:Science! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Rei ( 128717 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @12:00PM (#51414561) Homepage

        You're typing on a device that stores trillions of pieces of data and makes billions of computations per second with the ability to grab data on almost anything from around the world in milliseconds, using electricity transmitted from hundreds of kilometers through wires on towers dozens of meters tall connected to megastructures that do things like burn coal as fast as entire trains can pull into the yard, or spin in the wind with blades the size of jumbo jets, or the like, which were delivered to their location by vehicles with computer-timed engines burning a fuel that was pumped up halfway around the world from up to half a dozen kilometers underground and locked into complex strata (through wells drilled by diamond-lined bores that can be remote-control steered as they go), shipped around the world in tankers with volumes the size of large city blocks and the height of apartment complexes, run through complex chemical processes in unimaginable quantities, distributed nationwide and sold to you at a corner store for $1.80 a gallon, which you then pay for with a little piece of microchipped plastic, if not a smartphone, which does all of the aforementioned computer stuff but in a box the size of your hand that tolerates getting beaten up in your pocket all day.

        But technology never seems to advance...

        • MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

          by H_Fisher ( 808597 ) <hvfisher&hotmail,com> on Monday February 01, 2016 @12:15PM (#51414657)
          What Rei said. We spend so much time (and by "we" I mean "people in the so-called First World but especially the U.S.") complaining about what we don't have, we forget how much we DO have, and what we HAVE accomplished — "we" in this case being "humanity." There's a lot to appreciate, which is why I like hearing about these advances.
        • Quite right, we've become incredibly blasé about the tech miracles of the last 50 years.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by gstoddart ( 321705 )

          No, we have awesome technology ... but if I got excited over every hardware advancement on the front page of Slashdot which was going to completely change some common technology with 5 years ... well, I'd be living in a perpetual state of disappointment.

          Technology advances ... getting breathless over all of the things which might be the next big thing, sooner or later you realize there's an awful lot of stuff which doesn't pan out.

          If even a quarter of the breakthroughs in Lithium batteries we've seen on Sla

          • by kwoff ( 516741 )
            I hope the news footage includes you explaining in detail how unexcited you are about it. It's very interesting how unexcited you are!
            • You're entirely free to ignore it.

              Me, I don't much give a crap about you not giving a crap about things I don't give a crap about, but if you insist on discussing how much you don't give a crap about me not giving a crap ... well, I don't give a crap.

              Like every other piece of drivel on the internet, just pretend it's not even there.

            • if he had a newsletter, i'd most certainly subscribe to it!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            You could well have a cell phone with a two month battery life - if the power draw was the same as it used to be back in the day. Those Nokia phones that went two weeks between charges in the late 90s had 1Ah batteries, and some smartphones are around 4Ah now. Of course, now we have big bright screens and Wi-Fi and multi-core processors to use up all that power. But the batteries definitely have improved whether you've noticed it or not.

        • In other words, if Earth is hit by a massive EMP, we're all screwed. We can't switch to much of a local economy any time fast.

        • Re:Science! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ledow ( 319597 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @01:21PM (#51415161) Homepage

          And you're discussing it on a medium that didn't even exist 50 years ago, in a browser that only works as expected on websites if it was made in the last 5 years, running on a computer that has to have been made in the last 10 at least to be fast enough, and the markup surrounding your post would probably fill the memory of any machine made when you were a kid (let alone the processing and display of that markup).

          Tech moves fast.
          Hell, we've basically ended up in a Star Trek-like universe where anyone can call anyone they know, at any time of the day, almost anywhere in the world, by tapping a button and saying "Call Fred". And we barely even noticed.

        • Yeah but what's still missing? Hoverboard!

        • by 8086 ( 705094 )
          That's a wonderful passage and truly deserves to be published. I wish I was a schoolteacher just so I could show it to my kids in class. I agree with all of it: there are lots of miracles both man-made and god-made all around us that we never come to appreciate. But here's my gripe with the state of technological innovation today: all this stuff except for cellphones has been with us for decades, or at least for as long as I've had my eyes open. Sure there are minor improvements everywhere: carburetors got
          • Re:Science! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by GLMDesigns ( 2044134 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @03:08PM (#51416003)
            Really? Exponential increases in processing power along with a decrease in price is not affecting your life in any meaningful way? Do you want to go back to 9600 baud? And be excited when 14.4s and then 28.8 came out.

            In 2000 T1s (1.54 Mb/s) cost $1000 a month and I don't know how much to install. Now 1.54 up and down is low end consumer speed.

            The difference between an iPhone and a brick phone is astonishing. You have a computer better than what was available 20 years ago (better than what sent men to the moon) in the palm of your hand plus a camera plus a recording device plus a calculator plus all the apps that never existed before and yet you're blase about it?

            Dude!. Wake up. The pace of change is truly amazing. Not to go Kurzweilian on you but this world is changing faster than ever and you're not seeing it; not appreciating the beauty; nor aware of the dangers.
            • by 8086 ( 705094 )
              Yes, processing power and bandwidth have gone up significantly but what do we do with them? The same things we did on the old systems. You could stream video on 56k using Real player, or play Doom with your friends over 9600 baud. Now there is Netflix and GTA Online. Apart from a little extra HTML5/Ajax widgetry, Slashdot looked and functioned pretty much the same on my 640x480 screen over a 33.6k modem. Those supercomputers in our pockets are used for random chitchat on Twitter and Facebook and playing Ang
        • And apparently, if today's technology doesn't allow drunken fools to wipe out whole families by crashing into their vehicles from above, it's crap.

          In other news, autonomous cars that may help with the drunk-driver problem are coming along nicely, thanks to... Science! Er, technology.

    • Also, one doesn't tend to hear much directly about super resolution microscopy (anything beating the diffration limit). Supreres is a great (if rather finicky) tool, but it will enable other descoveries by allowing people to see otherwise unobservable cellular mechanism.

      Eventually you'll probably hear about the results of those, but supre-res in general and the technique in particular will probably have long since left the description by the time you hear about it.

    • I'm all for easier colonoscopies every four* years, but I'm really curious how light this will make glasses and improve contact lenses (which are already essentially weightless). Science does indeed kick ass!
  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @11:38AM (#51414341) Journal

    Come on, did the author not have room to fit in two words, "zone plate"?

  • Great! I can have a better way to fix my vision without scary surgery. Seriously though, what would glasses be like with this tech?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The wavelength of blue light is 400 nm.
    Half a wavelength of blue light thus is 200 nm.
    The article mentions the lens is able to resolve features as small as the diffraction limit.
    Not which wavelength of light is used when resolving features as small as 200 nm.
    Calling the ultra-thin lens diffraction limit breaking might be a bit premature.

    • Given that the paper is in fact open access: [] ...

      Why not link that in the summary instead of Gizmag's nonsense article ?

      Also I'm confused. The paper says the lens thickness is 200nm. So where did the "1 billionth of a metre" come into it? From the paper: "a large size 200-nm-thick GO thin film is prepared on a glass substrate".

      To address your question they show focused spots in wavelengths from the VIS-NIR (400-1000nm ish). The focus performance is pretty much constant throu

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could this not be used for making smaller chips ?

    • Probably not, because it's less efficient than a standard lens.

      FTFP (not the bullshit summary on Gizmodo):

      far-field three-dimensional subwavelength focusing (Î^3/5) with an absolute focusing efficiency of >32% for a broad wavelength range from 400 to 1,500ânm.

      That compares to the 1.22*Î/3.6um ~ Î/3 diameter of an Airy disc for this lens. But the diffraction pattern contains about 83% of the beam intensity in the central disc (the Airy disc proper) compared to 32% in the central spot

      • This is the kind of thing that might lead towards nano-scale optical computing. And is also a potential small step towards the holy grail of tech - molecular scale assemblers.. Its even made of roughly the right material - grapheme - not such a large step from diamond composites...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Who will save the world first?

  • Reposting This from inside the debate -

    This lens is the kind of thing that might lead towards nano-scale optical computing. And is also a potential small step towards the holy grail of tech - molecular scale assemblers.. Its even made of roughly the right material - grapheme - not such a large step from diamond composites...

A committee takes root and grows, it flowers, wilts and dies, scattering the seed from which other committees will bloom. -- Parkinson