The resulting images are mind-blowing for a camera this small.
A team of researchers from Princeton and the University of Washington has managed to create a tiny camera the size of a grain of salt that can capture high-resolution, full-color images measuring 720 x 720 pixels. According to the research papers, the camera is made with a metasurface that captures light, which could be scaled up to turn entire surfaces into sensors. The circular pattern in the camera is half-millimeter wide and contains 1.6 million cylinders that bend light so that the array as a whole shapes the optical wavefront. Signal processing algorithms then produce an image from that data.
What's more, the team says that the camera is quite cheap and simple to mass-produce. They’re made of silicon nitride, and the nanostructures of the surface can be produced using deep ultraviolet lithography, a technique already used to make semiconductors.
“We could turn individual surfaces into cameras that have an ultra-high-resolution, so you wouldn’t need three cameras on the back of your phone anymore, but the whole back of your phone would become one giant camera,” says Felix Heide, senior author of the study. “We can think of completely different ways to build devices in the future.”