Wonderful Engineering

Mathematician Solves 2000-Year Old Problem With Lens

It is something that people other than photographers, chemists, physicists, or anyone who has a sharp eye rarely notice, but it exists nonetheless. The edges of images are always a bit soft as compared to the center of the image. Rafael G. González-Acuña is the name of the Mexican physicist and doctoral student at Mexico’s Tecnológico de Monterrey who has come up with a solution for this 2,000 years old mathematics problem.

Yes, Rafael G. González-Acuña has managed to solve a two thousand years old problem. This implies that we will be able to take pictures that sharp and clear throughout the frame. As of now, whether you rely on a microscope or a camera; while the center of the image remains sharp and clear, the edges have never been equally sharp or clear. It has been about two thousand years that optical devices are suffering from this issue. Although, theoretically speaking, the curved lenses should redirect the rays of light that go through it to a single and sharp focal point. However, that has not been the case.

Imperfections in lenses – this means refractions of light happening across a lens – have caused the image not to be uniformly clear. This is known as spherical aberration and has been around for quite some time. You would be surprised to know that even the great geniuses such as Diocles and Newton were not able to solve this mystery, but Rafael G. González-Acuña has managed to solve it!

The term spherical aberration was coined for the first time back in 1949 as the Wasserman-Wolf problem, and up until now, no one has been able to solve it. Lens makers of today have become quite close to creating an all-round perfect and consistent, sharp image while reducing the effects of spherical aberration significantly. However, the process does incur a lot of costs and is still not quite perfect. Thanks to Rafael G. González-Acuña, the lens makers won’t need to spend heaps of money.

The discovery was published with ‘researchers Alejandro Chaparro Romo and Julio Gutiérrez Vega in Applied Optics.’ Rafael G. González-Acuña was able to put together a mathematical equation that is complication enough to make you cry but once you are able to work beyond the difficulty of it; you will realize that it offers an analytical solution for the problem of spherical aberration.

The formula offers a precise blueprint for how to create a lens that is optically perfect, thus making sure that the obtained image is equally sharp throughout. This will lead to new discoveries!