Nano cameras are nothing new, but the one in the news today is smaller than anything we have seen. Researchers at the University of Washington have managed to create a camera so small that it’s the size of a salt grain.
This new nano camera is built on a metasurface made out of 1.6 million cylindrical posts that work just like a camera sensor. Each of these posts acts as an optical antenna that receives light and shapes the optical wavefront. It is then enhanced by AI to create a high-quality image with full colors.
Traditional cameras use plastic and glass lenses to redirect light into the sensor, but this new solution doesn’t need any of that. In simple words, the metasurface of the camera is a thin film with individual miniature elements that are able to refract light into any direction.
This metasurface combined with the millions of cylindrical posts and a proper signal processing algorithm allowed the researchers to produce an actual image. Without a proper algorithm, the sensor would only produce blurry and distorted images with a small field of view.
The best part is that this nano camera is based on silicon nitride, meaning that it can be mass-produced at a lower cost than conventional cameras. The main application for this camera will be the medical field but it could expand to several other industries in the future.