Micro-sized cameras have been used in the past to observe an object that is beyond eyesight. Usually, these tiny surveillance cameras are attached to small robots to generate images from a distance, but the problem is they only offer a limited view for the looker.

Recently, a group of researchers from the University of Washington and Princeton University managed to create a special camera that could operate like a usual camera. 

The catch here is its size which is comparable to a salt grain. Despite being small, it could capture ultra-high resolution images, which the other previous cameras could not accomplish.

Salt Grain-Sized Cameras Could Produce Crystal-Clear Images

According to a report by Phys.org on Monday, Nov. 29, the ultra-compact cameras can generate high-quality images which could go up to 500,000 times in volume made by a typical compound camera.

Like the other cameras designed for endoscopy, this special camera could help professionals detect a developing disease in a patient. It makes use of sensors that could create high-quality shots along the process.

Furthermore, this camera depends on the so-called metasurface, wherein it resembles a computer chip. The most interesting part of this study is how it performs its tasks given its size similar to the size of human immunodeficiency virus HIV)S, which is half of the millimeter.

There are about 1.6 million cylindrical posts, wherein each of them has an optical antenna. Their design also varies depending on the optical wavefront. This is made possible through machine algorithms that help the metasurface camera grasp a photo in its full color.

According to the researchers, they compared the previous photos from the system and the results of the metasurface cameras. It turned out that the latter has a lot of advantages when it comes to image quality which exceeds the expected volume.

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The Challenge Behind These Metasurface Cameras

In another report by The Engineer, study's co-author Ethan Tseng said that the challenge behind creating these micro-sized cameras is their design and configuration. The computer science student from Princeton added that they could not figure out the proper approach to start its design right away.

Meanwhile, another co-lead author Shane Colburn dealt with this issue by conducting a test for a series of nan-antenna configurations. By developing a computational simulator, he could produce accurate images of ultra-high resolution.

UW ECE student James Whitehead was the one who fabricated the metasurfaces. It was based on the glass-like content called silicon nitride, which could go with the usual computer cards.

Having said that, the team could mass produce these metasurface cameras at an affordable cost. The low price would be expected to come with a more innovative design and features.

Future studies could tackle the inclusion of computational abilities to the small cameras. This would pave the way for the researchers to optimize the quality of generated images. They would also explore how it could help the health and tech sector soon.

To view the study entitled "Neural nano-optics for high-quality thin lens imaging," visit Nature.com for more information.

Micro Cameras that Made Waves to Science

In 2016, scientists created a 3d-printed micro camera that can be injected into the body. At the time of the report, the camera was deemed to be much smaller than a grain of salt.

Last September, Tech Times reported that the nano cameras were incorporated with a molecular glue to observe the real-time behavior of chemicals during the reaction.

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Written by Joseph Henry 

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