Researchers from the University of Utah have developed a smartphone camera lens technology which is significantly thinner than traditional lenses.
The research paper was co-authored by a mix of electrical and computer engineering students, electrical and computer engineering associate professors, and mathematics associate professors.
“Our lens is a hundred times lighter and a thousand times thinner, but the performance can be as good as conventional lenses,” said Associate Professor Rajesh Menon.
The new lens uses a variety of microstructures which each bend light towards the sensor, as opposed to the conventional method where light bounces off a single object.
“You can think of these microstructures as very small pixels of a lens,” Menon explains.
“They’re not a lens by themselves but all working together to act as a lens.”
As a result, the lens can be extremely flat – over 20 times thinner than a single strand of human hair – and could be used to develop smartphones that have no camera bump.
However, other uses for this technology include improved thermal imaging and making military drones lighter – the latter of which would allow for longer missions.
Menon also speculated that this lens could actually be cheaper to make than current lenses, as it can be made out of plastic rather than glass.