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The Science Behind Our Blade Optics Proof-Of-Concept Telescope

Rhys Hanak - February 27, 2019

Having been the first optical instrument ever invented by man, the telescope is widely considered to have formed the basis for many of today’s modern imaging devices.   

Now, even centuries later, innovative telescopic imaging systems continue to present new opportunities for businesses, academia, and government organizations alike.

With the two year anniversary of our Blade Optics proof-of-concept “First Light” announcement just one week ago, we are proud to reflect upon the science behind telescopes—and what exactly makes our proof-of-concept telescope so special.

Who Invented The First Telescope?

The world’s first telescope was invented by 17th century Dutch innovator Hans Lippershey in 1608.  It didn’t take long for his invention to spread like wildfire throughout Europe.

Just a year later in 1609, Galileo Galilei improved upon the dutchman’s original design, and more importantly, aimed it at the sky. In doing so, Galileo became the first human ever to witness detailed features of the moon (ie. valleys, mountains), phases of the planet Venus, and 4 of the 79 moons that orbited Jupiter (now referred to as the “Galilean satellites”).

Later in 1668, Isaac Newton invented the world’s first reflecting telescope, dubbed the Netownian Reflector. Constructed of an iron and tin alloy, this reflecting telescope allowed Newton to successfully survey the Galilean satellites and phases of Venus first seen by Galileo decades earlier.

Luckily for scientists, modern telescopes have come a long way since then.

How Modern Telescopes Work

Modern telescopes are typically comprised of two main parts: an objective lens and an eyepiece lens.

The objective lens is responsible for both collecting and focusing light inside the telescope. The eyepiece lens (which is smaller than the objective lens) then takes this bright light from the focal point and magnifies it.

The objective lens is widely considered the most crucial part of a telescope.

Via BBC,

“The power of a telescope depends almost entirely on the size of the objective lens, sometimes called the aperture . . .”

Before getting into the science behind our proof-of-concept telescope—and how exactly our Blade Optics technology increases objective lens (aka aperture) size—we’ll explore how the two most common types of telescopes work.

The Two Traditional Types Of Telescopes

Refracting and reflecting telescopes are two of the most common types of telescopes.

A refracting telescope uses convex lenses to focus light by bending light inwards, while a reflecting telescope uses concave mirrors to focus light by bending light together.

One of the major shortcomings of refractory telescopes is their imaging fidelity. As white light travels through the aperture of a refractory telescope, different colours bend at slightly different points—causing what is known as false colouration (blurry and miscoloured images).

Due to their larger aperture capabilities and superior imaging fidelity, reflecting telescopes have effectively replaced refracting telescopes in the scientific world.

But what kind of telescope is our proof-of-concept telescope?

How Our Blade Optics Proof-Of-Concept Telescope Works

Our Blade Optics enabled proof-of-concept telescope features a novel optical pathway that combines both reflective and refractive elements.

Our proof-of-concept telescope contains both flat lenses and a square aperture—an unprecedented, disruptive take on telescope imaging design.

At the core of this proof-of-concept telescope lies NexOptic’s powered prism technology, which we use to compress and redirect incoming light. When this compressed beam of light is redirected from its original direction, the telescope can then be effectively “folded” into itself, creating a multiplier that results in a 100mm aperture and 1500mm focal length.

In sum, the multiplier created by compressing the light before focusing it allows NexOptic’s Blade Optics powered telescope to achieve the same resolution and image as a conventional telescope—all within a fraction of the space.

A Revolution In Imaging Design

Telescopes hold a special place in our hearts. After all, we built the very foundation of our company on a proof-of-concept telescope—the first demonstration of the transformative potential of our Blade Optics technology. We believe that as we continue to grow our portfolio of Blade Optics technology, we can dramatically change the design of smartphones, sport optic devices, and more.

Rhys Hanak

When I’m not sharing NexOptic’s story with the world, you can find me in the mountains hiking or out on a run.