World’s First Metasurface for Consumer Electronics Makes Commercial Debut

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A recently announced partnership between Metalenz and STMicroelectronics marks optical revolutions for the 3D sensor market.

June 13, 2022 Peter Fretty, Editor, Laser Focus World

There is growing excitement around the metalens—and for good reason. Metasurfaces provide manufacturers with the ability to replace the three or four lenses (often from multiple suppliers) commonly used in complex optical systems with one single flat lens. Consider, for instance, the 3D sensing systems popular in many consumer devices such as Face ID used to open an iPhone. 

“The beautiful part about metasurfaces is the ability to produce it using existing semiconductor processes,” says Metalenz (Boston, MA) CEO and co-founder Robert Devlin. “It’s moving optics into the same semiconductor foundries making the electronics, resulting in a reduction in complexity.”

Often, reducing the complexity of an optical system means compromising performance. However, the reverse has been true with the first commercial deployment for the Harvard-born startup. “We have seen improvement in overall performance, including how much light is going where it’s needed at the image sensor,” says Devlin. “And since we are moving optics into the semiconductor fab, it also serves as a means of supply chain consolidation.”