So… can we expect cheaper and better lenses?
Better? Yes. Truly sharper from corner to corner.
The lens is quite unlike the curved disks of glass familiar from cameras and binoculars. Instead, it is made of a thin layer of transparent quartz coated in millions of tiny pillars, each just tens of nanometres across and hundreds high.
Singly, each pillar interacts strongly with light. Their combined effect is to slice up a light beam and remould it as the rays pass through the array
“The quality of our images is actually better than with a state-of-the-art objective lens. I think it is no exaggeration to say that this is potentially revolutionary.”
For readers here I think this is a great primer for what the state of things looks like if you’re not paying super close attention to smartphone cameras, and also the imaging chain at a high level on a mobile device.
Some figures are from of the incredibly useful (never leaves my side in book form or PDF form) Field Guide to Geometrical Optics by John Greivenkamp, a few other are my own or from OmniVision or Wikipedia. I’ve put the slides into a gallery and gone through them pretty much individually, but if you want the PDF version, you can find it here.
The process that links separate telescopes together is known as interferometry.
In this mode, the VLT becomes the biggest ground-based optical telescope on earth.
Besides creating a gigantic virtual mirror, interferometry also greatly improves the telescope’s spatial resolution and zooming capabilities.