Scientists at the Australian National University (ANU) have created the world's thinnest lens, one two-thousandth the thickness of a human hair, opening the door to flexible computer displays and a revolution in miniature cameras. The discovery hinged on the remarkable potential of the molybdenum disulphide crystal, which is a perfect candidate for future flexible displays. It survives at high temperatures, is a lubricant, a good semiconductor, and can emit photons.

Dr. Lu (left) with student Jiong Yang with the lens on-screen. (Stuart Hay/ANU)

The team will also be able to use arrays of micro-lenses to mimic the compound eyes of insects. The 6.3-nanometer lens outshines previous ultra-thin flat lenses made from 50-nanometer-thick gold nano-bar arrays, known as a metamaterial.