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Negative Refractive Index Telescopes?

  1. Dec 19, 2007 #1

    I recently read about the exciting research and progress being made with lenses made from negative refractive index materials. In theory, these materials have no limit to their resolving power and so far experiments have shown they can image objects smaller than that possible using conventional optical microscopes.

    It made me wonder whether the same would be true for telescopes. Whatever the engineering challenge, surely we can hope that one day telescopes could exist that can image tiny objects in the sky from distant asteroids to rivers on exoplanets to the earliest star systems in the Universe... are these almost fantastical telescopes feasible?

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 19, 2007 #2


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    You can only do this for microwave frequencies, doing it (in the same way) with optical would mean building structures smaller than an atom.
    The super-resolution effect is more useful for near field microscopy type applications.

    The main difficulty in building high resolution telescopes is simply signal to noise. You can already make a telescope with the individual elements 100m or 1000m apart, the difficulty is that as details on the object get smaller you get less signal from them.
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