Scientists create a microcamera the size of a grain of coarse salt capable of taking images with great clarity

This device could revolutionize the world of medicine, say the researchers.

Universidad de Princeton

A group of scientists from Princeton University and the University of Washington have created a microchamber that is the size of a grain of coarse salt. The quality of the images it takes is comparable to that of traditional camera lenses. But it was not created to fulfill an artistic function, the idea is that it is used in the medical field.

The device is based on the technology known as a metasurface consisting of 1.6 million microscopic cylinders. Each of them has a different geometry and works as individual optical antennas that capture light. These signals are processed using a machine learning algorithm and result in very good quality color images.


Previous micro-sized cameras (left) captured blurry and distorted images with limited fields of view. A new system called neural nano-optics (right) can produce sharp, full-color images on par with a conventional composite camera lens. Image: Princeton University.

Microcameras used in medicine today have much less field of view and images are often blurry or distorted. The use of this type of technology is called neural nano-optics systems. They are important because they drive the development of medical robots that can diagnose diseases with a lower margin of error and perform minimally invasive procedures.

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