Most of you may never have even noticed, aside from photographers, physicists, chemists or anyone with an extremely keen eye, but the edges of images have always been a little soft.
We may see extremely sharply and clearly in the center of the image, be it from a camera or a microscope, but the sides of the picture have never been able to be as sharp until now.
A Mexican physicist and doctoral student at Mexico's Tecnológico de Monterrey, Rafael G. González-Acuña, has just cracked the 2,000-year-old maths problem.
Meaning, we will now be able to create incredibly sharp and clear images all over a frame.
Ancient lens issues
For over 2,000 years, optical devices have suffered the same, unsolvable, fate. Not having sharp and clear imagery throughout the entirety of an image.
Curved lenses should be able to redirect the rays of light passing through it to one singular and a sharp focal point. But that's not been the case.
We are pleased to announce that The 2019 Optical Design and #Engineering Scholarship was awarded to Rafael Gonzalez Acuña of @TecdeMonterrey!— SPIE (@SPIEtweets) June 3, 2019
The scholarship was established in memory of Bill Price and Warren Smith, members of #SPIE's technical community. https://t.co/oJ5fi4Yns5 pic.twitter.com/BK6I3Ujciu
Imperfections in lenses, or refractions of light across a lens, have all contributed to images not being consistently clear. This phenomenon is known as spherical aberration, and it's been around for a while. Even great minds like Isaac Newton and Diocles were unable to solve the mystery.
Spherical aberration was first coined in 1949 as the Wasserman-Wolf problem, and up until now, no scientist was ever able to surpass it.
Today, lens makers have been extremely close to creating an all-round perfect and uniform sharp image, minimizing the effect of spherical aberration greatly.
However, these wind up costing a mountain of cash and still aren't quite perfect.
With González-Acuña's discovery, there won't be any need for these any longer. He noted the discovery was published with "researchers Alejandro Chaparro Romo and Julio Gutiérrez Vega in Applied Optics."
A mind-boggling equation to solve the problem
González-Acuña put together a mathematical equation that's complicated enough to make you want to cry.
But, if we look past the difficulty, the equation offers an analytical solution to counteract spherical aberration.
This means no more headaches for lens makers, as this formula offers an exact blueprint of how to create an optically perfect lens — sharpness from corner to corner.
This is excellent news for photographers, but it also helps out scientists who need accurate imaging in devices such as microscopes or telescopes. This may open the door to new discoveries.