Beautiful Science

An image of optical fibre formed by the multispectral chiral lens - an ultra-compact flat lens that can simultaneously capture both colour information and the chirality of an object. An object is chiral if it can be distinguished from its mirror imag
An image of optical fibre formed by the multispectral chiral lens.PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE CAPASSO LAB/HARVARD SEAS

An image of optical fibre formed by the multispectral chiral lens - an ultra-compact flat lens that can simultaneously capture both colour information and the chirality of an object.

An object is chiral if it can be distinguished from its mirror image; it is achiral if it cannot.

Materials made of chiral molecules reflect light differently depending on the nature of their chirality.

Current imaging techniques to capture chirality and colour information require multiple cascading components, leading to bulky and expensive pieces of equipment.

The new multispectral chiral lens, developed by researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, can do so without the addition of other optical components.

It is only 3mm in diameter and thinner than a strand of hair, allowing it to be easily integrated into portable devices.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2016, with the headline 'Beautiful Science'. Print Edition | Subscribe