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First OPA camera presented without lens

First OPA camera presented without lens
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Christian Boas

Researchers at the California Institute of Technology have developed a new camera that can capture images without a lens. The technique photographed through a phase-controlled optical system, such as a conventional camera, to manipulate the incoming light to capture an image.

Camera lenses have a curve that redirects incoming light and is centered on film, or today in digital cameras on a sensor. OPA, on the other hand, has a large amount of light receptors that allow individual time delays. This allows the camera to orient itself selectively in different directions, thus concentrating on different things without moving the device itself.

“The mechanism controls the timing of this process by specifying it in the range of quadrillionsths of a second,” said Research Director Ali Hajmiri.

The system consists of a layer of silicon on which there are integrated photons. Through the behavior of the receptors, the camera can switch between fish eye and telephoto lens, only by tiny deliberate changes of the light reception. These possibilities are based on the principle of transmitter accumulations that emit waves. These waves can mutually influence each other positively or negatively, which amplifies the signal in one direction and minimizes the other. All received light waves interfere with each other in all directions, except in one. Focused on this point, a focused, rigid “look” emerges, which can be controlled electronically and changed.


The team compares the system with the view through a straw, which allows you to see around the room, because it allows a quick change of perspective without having to position the camera itself. This new type of photography provides advances in camera technology, but also in other technological areas. Because the camera defines how thick a device is, for example also with smartphones. The discovery will also improve the research systems of astronomy, as the size-zero camera can be used to build unusually light and thin telescopes.

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