"In my opinion, this technology will be game-changing," said Federico Capasso of Harvard University, the senior author of a report on the new lens which appears in the journal Science.
The lens is quite unlike the curved disks of glass familiar from cameras and binoculars. Instead, it is made of a thin layer of transparent quartz coated in millions of tiny pillars, each just tens of nanometres across and hundreds high.
Singly, each pillar interacts strongly with light. Their combined effect is to slice up a light beam and remould it as the rays pass through the array.