Washington, Mar 17:
A team led by an Indian-origin scientist has developed a camera that does not require focusing, by using a single lens about one-thousandth of an inch thick.
The advance could enable thinner smartphone cameras, improved and smaller cameras for biomedical imaging such as endoscopy, and more compact cameras for automobiles, the researchers said.
The technology, described in the journal Optica, offers considerable benefits over traditional cameras such as the ones in most smartphones, which require multiple lenses to form high-quality, in-focus images.
“Our flat lenses can drastically reduce the weight, complexity and cost of cameras and other imaging systems, while increasing their functionality,” said research team leader Rajesh Menon from the University of Utah in the US.
Menon and colleagues noted that the flat lens can maintain focus for objects that are about six metres apart from each other.
Flat lenses use nanostructures patterned on a flat surface rather than bulky glass or plastic to achieve the important optical properties that control the way light travels.
“This new lens could have many interesting applications outside photography such as creating highly efficient illumination for LIDAR that is critical for many autonomous systems, including self-driving cars,” said Menon.
The researchers said the design approach they used could be expanded to create optical components with any number of properties such as extreme bandwidth, easier manufacturability or lower cost.