A camera the size of a grain of rice, capable of producing stunning images

Cameras are indispensable tools in the world of modern medicine. In order to make operations simpler and clearer, universities and various companies are working to miniaturize them.

Researchers have succeeded in miniaturizing a camera to the point of making it smaller than a grain of rice. The lens is capable of taking high resolution and color shots, a real feat given the size of the object. If military use is quickly considered when one hears of this progress, it was carried out by researchers at Princeton with a much more noble purpose.

The idea is indeed that this camera is used by doctors in particular during a surgical operation. Today the medical world is already using a whole bunch of technologically advanced objects to reduce the size of incisions while having the clearest and sharpest possible overview of their work. In order to limit the risks during postoperative convalescence, it is therefore essential to succeed in reducing the size of the utensils used, the cameras in the first place.

No miniature optics, but more than a million antennas

The find, published in the journal Nature Communications details the process of building such a camera. In order to achieve maximum success in their miniaturization process, the researchers made the daring bet not to use optics. The latter have in fact turned to a metastructure capable of capturing light and distinguishing colors thanks to 1.6 million nanoantennas.

The hardest part, according to the researchers, was therefore to find the right arrangement to adopt for its various antennas, which all have their own shapes. Once the latter was found, the scientists continued their miniaturization process to arrive at a rendering 500,000 times smaller than a conventional device. With less than half a centimeter thick, the camera is able to take photos with stunning rendering.

A not so new idea

The idea for the researchers would be to make it possible to use these metastructures in other fields. Without necessarily miniaturizing them, they could be an interesting option for smartphone manufacturers who would thus get rid of the imposing optical sensors that all give a strange shape to the backs of our phones.

This project is reminiscent of the presentation, two years ago, of OmniVision. The American company had indeed also achieved the feat of creating a camera smaller than a grain of rice in a cube of five millimeters by three. At the time, the latter was able to film with a quality of 200 pixels per side all at 30 frames per second. If the results are not as impressive as those of today, they have already enabled many surgeons to work in better conditions.

Leave a Comment