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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday June 28 2017, @08:37PM   Printer-friendly
from the seeing-clearly dept.

Caltech has created a camera without a lens:

Traditional cameras—even those on the thinnest of cell phones—cannot be truly flat due to their optics: lenses that require a certain shape and size in order to function. At Caltech, engineers have developed a new camera design that replaces the lenses with an ultra-thin optical phased array (OPA). The OPA does computationally what lenses do using large pieces of glass: it manipulates incoming light to capture an image.

[...] "Here, like most other things in life, timing is everything. With our new system, you can selectively look in a desired direction and at a very small part of the picture in front of you at any given time, by controlling the timing with femto-second—quadrillionth of a second—precision," says Ali Hajimiri, Bren Professor of Electrical Engineering and Medical Engineering in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science at Caltech, and the principal investigator of a paper describing the new camera. The paper was presented at the Optical Society of America's (OSA) Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO) and published online by the OSA in the OSA Technical Digest in March 2017.

"We've created a single thin layer of integrated silicon photonics that emulates the lens and sensor of a digital camera, reducing the thickness and cost of digital cameras. It can mimic a regular lens, but can switch from a fish-eye to a telephoto lens instantaneously—with just a simple adjustment in the way the array receives light," Hajimiri says.

Does this have implications for astronomy?

"The applications are endless," says graduate student Behrooz Abiri (MS '12), coauthor of the OSA paper. "Even in today's smartphones, the camera is the component that limits how thin your phone can get. Once scaled up, this technology can make lenses and thick cameras obsolete. It may even have implications for astronomy by enabling ultra-light, ultra-thin enormous flat telescopes on the ground or in space."


Paper: An 8x8 Heterodyne Lens-less OPA Camera

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29 2017, @06:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29 2017, @06:51AM (#532850)

    ...It was like the fad for making phones smaller and smaller, then laughing at people with larger ones even though that gave a better display area.

    Err, how much 'display area' do you require to display a phone number and name?

    I had a v3688, a great wee phone which was apparently indestructible, it survived many a drop, survived tens of thousands of miles travelling in rucksacks, camera bags. etc (I'm one of those apparently weird people who switch off their phones on long journeys..the phone travelled in the bags).

    I needed a small phone at the time as I was travelling a lot and lugged a fair amount of equipment around with me, anything to cut down on size/weight of anything was welcome..only reason I still don't use it as a backup phone?, battery died and I couldn't be arsed getting a replacement as it was cheaper to buy a nokia for the same role of 'small dumb phone..'

    Long story short, there are use-cases for small phones, however, I'm not so sure there's one for credit card thin uber-sized smartphones..