Camera as tiny as a grain of salt
A full-color camera that isthe size of a grain of saltthat is the next generationof metasurface technology.(Photo: Princeton University.)

Researchers at Princeton and the University of Washington have developed a tiny camera, the size of a grain of salt, which can snap sharp, full-colour images.

The device looks like little more than a clear panel with a circular pattern etched into it. The resulting images are far crisper than other small sensors. The researchers say that the shots are on par with those captured by a conventional compound camera lens half a million times bigger than their new sensor.

Another advantage is that the devices are simple to produce, making them relatively easy to scale up for production.

If they were to be mass-produced, the team says that the devices could be used for medical imaging in the body, providing small robots with better vision, or even turning anything into a camera by lining a surface with thousands of these sensors.

“We could turn individual surfaces into cameras that have ultra-high resolution. So you wouldn't need three cameras on the back of your phone anymore, but the whole back of your phone would become one giant camera,” says Felix Heide, senior author of the study published in Nature Communications.

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