Researchers from Princeton University and the University of Washington have created an incredibly small camera, about the size of a grain of salt, which solves the limitations of previous micro-sized cameras. This camera uses a special technology called a metasurface, made up of a grid with millions of tiny cylindrical posts that work like optical antennas.
With the help of machine learning algorithms, each post’s design can be adjusted, allowing the camera to take high-quality, full-color images with a wide field of view. This breakthrough has promising applications in the medical field, like improving medical robot endoscopy and imaging for small robots with size and weight restrictions. Unlike other metasurface cameras, this camera can perform well in natural light conditions, not just in ideal laboratory settings.
The new technology overcomes previous challenges faced by small metasurface lenses, such as image distortions and limited fields of view. A researcher named Shane Colburn developed a simulator to automate testing different nano-antenna setups, making the design process much more efficient.
In the future, arrays of such cameras could be used for full-scene sensing, turning surfaces into cameras, and creating exciting possibilities for imaging and sensing in various industries.