Researchers create focus-free camera with new flat lens
Using just one flat lens a fraction of a millimeter thick, the researchers have created a camera that does not require focusing for high-quality images..
Conventional camera lenses have multiple lenses, converting parallel rays of light into spherical waves that converge into a focal spot. A team of scientists at the University of Utah has discovered that other waveforms can produce a similar effect, dramatically increasing the number of possible lens designs capable of focusing all colors of light..
For the prototype, the researchers chose the best lens design for the depth of focus and applied nano-manufacturing techniques. Instead of the usual bulk glass or plastic, to achieve the desired effect, they created a nanostructured pattern on a flat surface that controls the movement of light..
Experiments confirmed that the new lens worked as expected and was able to maintain focus on objects that were about 6 meters apart, orders of magnitude better than a comparable standard lens. The team has demonstrated that the new lens uses infrared light and a relatively low numerical aperture.
In the future, the researchers plan to expand the lens to large numerical apertures and use it with the full spectrum of visible light to begin mass production and commercialize the project. According to them, the new design approach will allow the creation of various optical components with new properties..
Such lenses can reduce the weight, complexity and cost of cameras and other imaging systems while increasing their functionality..
Earlier, we also reported on the invention of a camera that is capable of capturing objects at a distance of 45 km..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: University of Utah