November 30, 2021

Beauty is in The Eye of The Ultra-Tiny Camera

Just when you thought cameras could not get any smaller or advanced, a team of researchers at two prominent US universities have produced one the size of a grain of salt.

The scientists – from Princeton University in New Jersey, and the University of Washington in Washington, D.C. – have created an ultra-compact camera that can produce images that are clear and full of vivid colours, much like those that are many volumes greater in size.

This new optical technology utilises a “metasurface” and can be produced in a way like a computer chip. It’s barely a millimetre-wide and has 1.6 million cylindrical posts, each with a unique geometry – acting like a sort of seeing antenna – to better capture light and produce a high-quality image.

According to Shane Colburn, co-author on the study, an unfortunate downside of the new technology is that it requires “massive amounts of memory and time”, due to the posts’ machine-learning to produce full-coloured images. The objective now is to enhance the efficiency of the optical system and improve computational power.

Nevertheless, these devices hold the potential to be mass-produced at a lower cost than regular cameras; the study’s senior author, Felix Heide, proclaims that “individual surfaces” could potentially be made into cameras, so “the whole back of your phone would become one giant camera.”

Needless to say, the innovation promises to be a major leap forward for image-capturing technology – micro-sized cameras can aid in medicine and other sectors that require a tiny eye to see compared to what the regular human eye can not.

Image Credit: Source