Applied Physics

Focusing Gem

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Science  14 Aug 2009:
Vol. 325, Issue 5942, pp. 795
DOI: 10.1126/science.325_795c

Diamond is a hard, chemically stable, and wear-resistant material, and so constitutes an ideal coating for apparatus used under harsh conditions. At the same time, it is not particularly pliable and therefore would not seem to be the first material of choice for tunable optics. However, Kriele et al. show that a thin membrane of nanocrystalline diamond—deposited initially as a thin film on a sacrificial substrate that is subsequently etched away—can be used as a flexible lens. By simply varying the applied pressure, the authors show that the membrane can bend and bow, with the focal length of the diamond lens varying accordingly from infinity to just 3.5 mm. Diamond should thus find use in remote-sensing applications and imaging in harsh environments: no longer just a material to be seen with, but now a material to see with as well.

Appl. Phys. Lett. 95, 31905 (2009).

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