Miniature Wide-Angle Camera – Created With Array of Metalenses – Could Fit Into Smartphones

Conventional high-quality wide-angle digital camera lenses are giant.

New design may allow high-quality wide-angle cameras that may presumably match into smartphones.

Researchers have designed a brand new compact digital camera that acquires wide-angle photos of high-quality utilizing an array of metalenses — flat nanopatterned surfaces used to govern mild. By eliminating the cumbersome and heavy lenses sometimes required for this kind of imaging, the brand new method may allow wide-angle cameras to be included into smartphones and transportable imaging gadgets for automobiles akin to vehicles or drones.

Tao Li and colleagues from Nanjing College in China report their new ultrathin digital camera in Optica, Optica Publishing Group’s journal for high-impact analysis. The brand new digital camera, which is simply 0.3 centimeters thick, can produce clear photos of a scene with a viewing angle of greater than 120 levels.

Wide Angle Images Compact Array of Metalenses

Researchers designed a brand new compact digital camera that acquires high-quality wide-angle photos utilizing an array of metalenses. Their new planar digital camera (MIWC) produced clearer photos of photos projected throughout a curved display in comparison with a digital camera primarily based on a single conventional metalens. Credit score: Tao Li, Nanjing College

Vast-angle imaging is helpful for capturing giant quantities of info that may create gorgeous, high-quality photos. For machine imaginative and prescient functions akin to autonomous driving and drone-based surveillance, wide-angle imaging can improve efficiency and security, for instance by revealing an impediment you couldn’t in any other case see whereas backing up in a car.

“To create an extremely compact wide-angle camera, we used an array of metalenses that each capture certain parts of the wide-angle scene,” stated Li. “The images are then stitched together to create a wide-angle image without any degradation in image quality.”

Miniaturizing the wide-angle lens

Vast-angle imaging is normally achieved with a fish-eye compound lens or different sort of multilayer lens. Though researchers have beforehand tried to make use of metalenses to create wide-angle cameras, they have a tendency to undergo from poor picture high quality or different drawbacks.

Within the new work, the researchers used an array of metalenses which are every rigorously designed to focus a special vary of illumination angles. This permits every lens to obviously picture half of a wide-angle object or scene. The clearest elements of every picture can then be computationally stitched collectively to create the ultimate picture.

Planar Camera

The researchers fabricated a metalens array (enlarged on the fitting) and mounted it on to a CMOS sensor. This created a planar digital camera that measured about 1 cm × 1 cm × 0.3 cm. Credit score: Tao Li, Nanjing College

“Thanks to the flexible design of the metasurfaces, the focusing and imaging performance of each lens can be optimized independently,” stated Li. “This gives rise to a high quality final wide-angle image after a stitching process. What’s more, the array can be manufactured using just one layer of material, which helps keep cost down.”

Seeing extra with flat lenses

To display the brand new method, the researchers used nanofabrication to create a metalens array and mounted it on to a CMOS sensor, making a planar digital camera that measured about 1 cm × 1 cm × 0.3 cm. They then used this digital camera to picture a wide-angle scene created through the use of two projectors to light up a curved display surrounding the digital camera at a distance of 15 cm.

They in contrast their new planar digital camera with one primarily based on a single conventional metalens whereas imaging the phrases “Nanjing University” projected throughout the curved display. The planar digital camera produced a picture that confirmed each letter clearly and had a viewing angle bigger than 120°, greater than 3 times bigger than that of the digital camera primarily based on a standard metalens.

The researchers notice that the planar digital camera demonstrated on this analysis used particular person metalenses simply 0.3 millimeters in diameter. They plan to enlarge these to about 1 to five millimeters to extend the digital camera’s imaging high quality. After optimization, the array may very well be mass produced to cut back the fee of every system.

Reference: “Planar wide-angle-imaging camera enabled by metalens array” by Ji Chen, Xin Ye, Shenglun Gao, Yuxin Chen, Yunwei Zhao, Chunyu Huang, Kai Qiu, Shining Zhu and Tao Li, 14 April 2022, Optica.
DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.446063

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