Aug 23, 2019

Smaller, cheaper, sharper lenses should be possible as Mexican scientist solves aberration problem

Posted by in categories: information science, mathematics

One of the oldest problems in optics has been solved. Rafael Gonzalez from Mexico’s Tecnologico de Monterrey has come up with an almost comically dense equation that can be used to almost completely eliminate spherical aberration in optical lenses, and the effects could be widespread.

Camera lenses are insanely complex and extraordinarily precise devices, and one of the reasons for this is spherical aberration. This is distinct from chromatic aberration, or color fringing, which you get when a lens is unable to focus light from all parts of the visual color spectrum together. Spherical aberration is what causes some lenses to be sharp in the middle, but blurrier toward the outside edges.

Lens manufacturers have for years been building aspherical lenses to try to counteract this effect, modifying the sphere shape slightly to try to sharpen up the whole image. By and large, many have done a great job, as evidenced by the general optical sharpness of today’s lenses. But rather than working to a precise mathematical formula that works to correct all spherical lens aberration, lens companies have had to work on each lens as a separate problem, finding solutions that worked, more or less, but forcing them to start over each time.

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