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Tiny Camera Rivals Those 500,000 Times Larger

However old you are, cameras have changed a great deal over your life time. For a start, who would ever have imagined that most people no longer own a separate device known as a camera - they simply use their mobile phone.

Be the as it may, over the years we've seen old bulky cameras shrink down to smaller and smaller versions. And while micro cameras are considered as works of art, they're almost always not very talented at image quality compared to their professional handheld peers.

Researchers at Princeton University and the University of Washington disagree; the team announced that they have successfully created an ultra-compact camera that is the size of a coarse salt grain, in a study published in Nature Communications. What's more, the camera can capture clear, full-color images that can compete with conventional camera lens setups that are 500,000 times larger.

What's new? Regular cameras use a series of curved glass or plastics in their lenses to bend the light into focus when taking photographs. The new microcamera the team has created has a new optical system featuring a technology called a metasurface that can be produced like a computer chip. Compared to previous ultra-compact metasurface lens cameras, the new lens easily removes image distortions and limitations to capturing full spectrums of visible light. Usually, tiny cameras work in pure laser light settings of a laboratory or similar ideal conditions to produce high-quality images, but the new camera’s performance in natural lighting is just as good as it is in lab lighting. The possibilities are endless with micro-cameras. And this new micro-optical system could be used for medical purposes, placed in robots to diagnose and treat diseases and improve imaging for other robots.

Photo credit: Princeton University


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