Camera the Size of a Grain of Salt Creates High-Res Images

Researchers unveil an ultracompact camera with the widest field of view and highest-quality images of any camera of its design to date.

What to know:

  • A new micro-sized camera has been developed by researchers at Princeton University and the University of Washington. Instead of a traditional lens, it relies on a metasurface the width of half a millimeter covered with 1.6 million cylindrical posts that function like optical antennae to interact with light.

  • The camera produces images with a wider field of view and higher quality than any previous camera using metasurface technology, which generally have encountered problems with image distortion, field of view, and capturing the full spectrum of visible light.

  • Researchers overcame these issues by integrating the optical surface with machine learning algorithms that help to produce the image.

  • The study, published in Nature Communications, also found that the images were comparable to those of a traditional camera using six refractive lenses ― more than 500,000 times larger than the ultracompact camera.

  • Researchers are hopeful that in addition to improving imaging in minimally invasive diagnostics and surgeries, the design could be used to turn entire surfaces into ultra-high-resolution cameras, such as on the back of a phone.

This is a summary of the article, “Researchers Shrink Camera to the Size of a Salt Grain,” published by Princeton Engineering on November 29. The full article can be found on

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